With all that I have said about the proper way to manage a public school system the birth place of such thoughts has not previously been revealed. But I am happy to reveal now that birthplace after my friend Kelly Kohls spoke at the West Chester Tea Party to a packed house on February 19th 2013. Several years ago Kelly invited my wife and I to The Golden Lamb for a special meeting in one of the upstairs banquet rooms for a group she started with other Ohio school board members called Educate Ohio. Kelly had recently become a member of the Springboro school board and had a lot of ideas on how to improve education quality for children while driving down the costs for the taxpayers. Since that very innovative meeting Kelly has went on to become the head of the Warren County Tea Party and is now president of the Springboro school board and managed to drive the per pupil cost of their district downward. Kelly has become everything that I would consider to be the most pristine example of what a school board president should be for every school in Ohio. Watch the video below to see how she did it, and how the same type of thing could be duplicated in any district. Her style of management should be the example that every school in the United States should follow. But it’s not easy, if it was, everyone would do it. And as Kelly will describe below she has faced many challenges. In fact, on the eve of the below speech the SEA, (Springboro Education Association) filed a complaint against Kelly’s school board for unfair labor practices—which I will get into more detail in a bit.
I knew when I attended The Golden Lamb meeting years ago that good things were going to come out of Kelly Kohls and I am very proud of the very good work she has done. It is far from easy to stand up to organized labor the way she has, but her district is much, much better for it. If you watched the video above, you learned that Springboro’s per pupil costs are on a downward trend. They are now into the $7,000 range down from the mid $8,000 range and this is unprecedented for any school board anywhere in Ohio. They are actually now projecting a budget surplus which is also unprecedented. In addition, Kelly has managed to bring up the weaknesses in the district rating system and performance of students by setting new standards of performance that are not driven by union controlled lobby expectations, but instead by common sense.
One of the major ways that Kelly has managed to gain control of the costs in Springboro is that she convinced her school board to drop out of the OSBA organization. The Ohio School Board Association is a membership driven entity that is locked arm and arm with the Ohio Education Association, the largest teacher labor union in Ohio. The goal of the OSBA is to train new school board members to show the community a unified front while actually taking direction from the teacher union leadership. As soon as school board members are elected they are whisked away to Columbus for a weekend of “bonding” with other education professionals so that loyalties can be achieved and consensus delivered. This always works against the tax payers and does absolutely no good in controlling education budgets. Kelly’s school board has cancelled their membership to the OSBA and instead has started her own leadership group designed to teach school board members to think independently of the OSBA and the OEA.
Another thing that Kelly revealed in her speech that was very illuminating was that Ohio no longer requires teachers to have a master’s degree from college to teach—which is contrary to what many districts have been telling the public when levy pushes are provoked. If I had a quarter for every time a teacher stated that they had to pursue a master’s degree to become a kindergarten teacher at Lakota there would be enough money to fund that school for decades with the result. The required master’s degree mandate uttered from public schools has been deliberately misleading. Ohio for four years now has dropped the requirement for master’s degrees for public education teachers. The pursuit of master’s degrees has artificially driven up the labor costs of teachers through step increases which amplify budget costs. Kelly has begun to make decisions from her school board with that knowledge which has led to a savings of the overall district financial requirements.
Of course the labor unions have had many problems with Kelly Kohls. After the meeting shown above Kelly and I had a good laugh reminiscing about all the reporters we know who eat out of the hand of the OSBA and local teacher unions. For Kelly it is the Dayton Daily News, a Cox Media division that writes many hit pieces against her. For me it has become The Cincinnati Enquirer which has been chronicled with much fanfare. The newspapers are functioning from a position of desperation. They need content to fill their paper and they often get that content from the local school system. They need a good relationship with the school system more than they need a relationship with the reformers of education, so loyalties fall in line accordingly. But in Kelly’s case, especially now that she’s the president of her school board, the media needs her again, but she doesn’t need them—so they are in a precarious situation in Springboro, Ohio.
The unions see the writing on the wall under the leadership of Kelly Kohls, and know that they are losing their power and influence. There is no public tolerance for a strike in Springboro or any of the Southern Ohio districts, so they know they cannot play that card in the future to extort more money from the district. Unions are also losing the power of the media, because the negative press they attempt to wield has only helped Kelly Kohls and those like her become stronger and more influential. So when Kelly indicated that the school board wished to begin negotiations on a contract that is up in June of 2013 the SEA union filed a motion against Kelly’s school board with an “unfair labor practice” complaint. The union desires to not negotiate the new union contract until the last minute, using chaos to drive up the costs in their favor, which is an old union tactic. Kelly, being a good manager is trying to get the contract negotiated well before hand so that the numbers come out in favor of the district—which is what she is supposed to do. The action taken by the union is a toothless gesture. Without question they will attempt the same tactic again and again in the months to come trying to turn the public sentiment against Kohls, but it won’t work. Kelly will gain in popularity with each labor attempt because normal people admire courage, and respect people who stand squarely against adversity. So the more the Dayton Daily News writes about the labor dispute in Springboro, the stronger the public will lean in Kelly’s direction. This has placed the Springboro school board for the first time in perhaps 100 years in a position of strength, and is certainly a modern first in Ohio. Kelly’s Springboro school board is the shining modern example of how a school board should operate, and they are having immediate and noticeable success that is very dramatic.
The success of Springboro is dispelling all the myths that levy advocates for public education have been using to increase property taxes with an ultimate subtle aim of fulfilling Agenda 21 goals by collapsing suburbs through taxation using progressive groups like labor unions to set the mechanisms in place. The unfortunate victims have been the children who by Kelly’s charts have been denied proper educations in favor of an education system designed to benefit the adult employees at the expense of youth. The fight that Kelly has been combating is one that is of the highest honor, because in the history of Ohio far into the future, it will be remembered who fought on behalf of the children, and the future of not only Ohio, Springboro, or education in general, but the future of all mankind in the minds of our youth. Kelly Kohls is fighting that fight and has been successful. Now all the children of the world need is more brave souls to join Kelly in this fight against education tyranny so that proper management of tax payer resources can be provided, and the children can directly benefit. The thieves of public education need to be put out of business, and it takes tough ladies like Kelly Kohls and a handful of others to advance that cause in order to preserve our species from the downward spiral that is currently engulfing us all in public education.
If you are a school board member or would like to become one and need guidance, please feel free to contact Kelly Kohls and the other members of the OSBLC (Ohio School board Leadership Council) at the link below.