This is What Democracy in Ohio Looks Like! Ohio’s Democratic “Infrastructure”

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http://afsc.org/document/what-democracy-looks-october-2014-document.

NEWS RELEASE
Contacts: John Fuller, 330-867-5122; Greg Coleridge, 216-255-2184
For Immediate Release: October 2, 2014

NEW REPORT DESCRIBES OHIO’S DEMOCRATIC “INFRASTRUCTURE”

[Cuyahoga Falls, OH] The Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) today released a new report itemizing Ohio’s democratic “infrastructure.”

The 20-page report, “This is What Democracy in Ohio Looks Like! Ohio’s Democratic/Self-Determination ‘Infrastructure,’” lists scores of documents, policies, practices, institutions, structures and groups that represent the state’s democratic/self determination foundation and culture – examples where those who are affected by decisions and policies have a role in the shaping of those decisions.

The list includes public and governmental entities as well as grassroots alternative initiatives across Ohio that bypass corporate and top down government structures.

Specific examples with contact information and/or links are listed in the areas of community, cooperatives, democratic legacy, economics/money, education, employment, employee ownership, food/agriculture, municipal ownership, news/information, political/legal, public spaces and social action/change organizations.

The report seeks to raise public awareness of the value of democratic openings that still exist or could exist with investment of individual and/or collective energies. This is increasingly important in an age of rapid privatization/corporatization of public assets; individuals looking to increase their power, status, and/or privileges through concentrating decision-making; and a culture that, among other anti-democratic characteristics, ignores historical examples of citizen control and definition of their lives.

The report also strives to emphasize the importance of working for democratic social change through creating or nurturing alternative organizations and policies and also of pursuing the democratization of existing laws, constitutions, policies, practices, and organizations.

“This report is unlike any other that has been published in Ohio,” said John Fuller of the AFSC. “It connects seemingly different existing formal institutions, grassroots groups, public arenas, laws and rules under the single umbrella of ‘democracy.’ Seen in this comprehensive way, it’s much clearer to see how we are losing our self-determination, but also to understand the multiple ways Ohioans are working to create and protect it.”

“Ohio’s physical infrastructures (i.e. roads, bridges, sewers, dams, etc.), need constant attention to prevent their crumble and collapse, stated Greg Coleridge of the Northeast Ohio AFSC. “The same goes with our democratic/self-determination ‘infrastructure.’ We must constantly and consciously resist the threats to democracy in our communities, state and nation by corporations and top-down government structures by protecting and expanding our democratic legacy, structures, policies and groups. If we don’t, our democratic infrastructure will, too, crumble and collapse.”

A copy of the report is available at http://afsc.org/document/what-democracy-looks-october-2014-document.

AFSC is a Quaker social action organization that educates, advocates and organizes on justice, peace and democracy issues. In the later category, it supports laws and rules ending corporate rule and big money in elections, as well as opposes privatization of public assets and services.

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Multiple Costs of School Privatization/Corporatization

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The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently released test results of schools statewide – both public and private. The results showed that public schools outperformed charter schools – again.

The ODE report showed that 228 out of 281 charter schools, many of them run by for-profit corporations, ranked in the bottom 25% academically, 93% of all charters ranked in the bottom 50%. Only 65% of students in charters passed the 3rd grade reading test, compared to 81% overall (the rate for public schools was 85%).

Charters took over $900 million directly out of school district budgets last year. Based on their enrollment, that came to $7500 per student. That compared to just shy of $3500 per student in public districts.

Charter students aren’t receiving a quality education. Taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth. Citizens aren’t aware of all that takes place in charters as the private corporate shield prevents many charters from being fully accountable for their activities.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is the largest charter school corporation in Ohio, in fact the 10th largest schools district in the entire state with a reported enrollment of 14,600. They received 7 F’s and 1 D in the ODE report. They continue to rank below all 8 large urban school districts in the state – the ones that we are told are disasters and should be “privatized.” ECOT’s 4-year graduation rate was 26% points lower than the infamous Cleveland public school district. Yet they received 100 million of our tax dollars last year alone. Two other private corporations owned by ECOT’s founder that provide management services to ECOT have shoveled in another $130 million since 2001, $22 million last year alone.

How could such a combined educational, financial and democracy disaster occur?

Political investments, what else.

William Lager is ECOT’s founder. He’s also a major political investor to Ohio Republican politicians. Lager has invested just over $2 million since 2001 in Ohio politicians to make sure his voice is heard – and inept educational corporations fully funded. Over the last 8 years, his political investments have averaged just short of $200,000 per year.

So let’s do the math. Lager’s corporations receive a combined $122,000,000 last year in our tax dollars. He politically invested $200,000. That’s a return of 610 times his investment. Not bad. Sure beats CD’s, even the Quantitative Easing-inflated stock market.

Mr. Lager, like many other CEOs of charter corporations, is making a ton of profit by supplying low quality service.

This couldn’t happen if political money was not constitutionally defined as “free speech” and corporations as “persons.” It’s just yet another reason for working to pass the We the People Constitutional Amendment