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Published: Wednesday, 10/20/2010

Mother in Strickland education ad is teacher in union

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

A television ad for Gov. Ted Strickland's re-election effort that features a mother speaking glowingly about Mr. Strickland's education reforms fails to disclose that the woman is also a teacher and an officer of a teachers' union that lobbied for the reforms.

The ad features Josie Davis of Worthington expressing support for Mr. Strickland and criticizing opponent John Kasich as "for Wall Street."

"Nothing's more important to me than my son's education. That's why I'm so glad Ted Strickland fought for education reform," Ms. Davis says in the spot.

Undisclosed to viewers is that Ms. Davis is the elected building representative for the Worthington Education Association at Worthington's Wilson Hill Elementary School. The union is an affiliate of the Ohio Education Association that lobbied for Mr. Strickland's evidence-based model school funding plan.

Mr. Strickland, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican John Kasich.

The Strickland campaign disclosed in an Oct. 8 news release that Ms. Davis is a teacher as well as a mother.

"Josie is a mother and a teacher and thereby someone who is very concerned about the future of Ohio's schools, which would be jeopardized by Congressman Kasich's reckless plans to scrap education reforms that direct more dollars into the classroom," Lis Smith, communications director for the Strickland campaign, said Tuesday.

She said the campaign did not select Ms. Davis for the spot because of her union affiliation and said that Ms. Davis was not paid.

The Kasich campaign was criticized two weeks ago for its commercial that featured a man, who many people thought was a steelworker, attacking Governor Strickland over the loss of jobs. The man turned out to be a paid professional actor.

The Kasich campaign says the Strickland ad should have disclosed Ms. Davis's affiliation with a union that has endorsed Mr. Strickland's re-election.

"We find it disingenuous that they would portray this woman as simply a parent when in fact she is a union activist and part of an organization that is spending an outrageous amount of money attacking John," said Rob Nichols, press secretary for Mr. Kasich.

Mr. Strickland has touted his evidence-based model as an effort to solve inequitable school funding and which has won the state plaudits from the Education Commission of the States.

Mr. Kasich has said he would repeal the evidence-based model because the state budget doesn't appropriate the money to implement it.

State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R., Delta) said the evidence-based model imposes unfunded mandates that benefit the union and takes power away from Ohio school districts. "Obviously it's another deceptive thing being done in the Strickland camp in my view to hang on to power in this election," Mr. Buehrer said.

Mark Hill, president of the Worthington Education Association, said reforms would shift more of the cost of school funding from local property taxes to the state, which he said benefits everybody.

"The ad is authentic because she's a mom. Just because she's a teacher doesn't mean she has to take [off] her mom hat and can't advocate for the evidence-based model," Mr. Hill said.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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