Lost in Monday's announcement by Ohio Auditor David Yost that Ohio's Department of Education is "among the worst, if not the worst-run state agency in state government" is an obvious question: "Why?"
Well, may I offer an answer -- a failure of leadership in the governor's mansion. Why do I say that?
Because John Kasich is now on his 6th State Superintendent of Public Instruction -- two of whom had to resign amidst scandal. Here's the list:
1) Deb Delisle -- Kasich bullied her into resigning, which ended up OK because she was appointed the Assistant Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education and became among the most respected Assistant Secretaries in history.
2) Stan Heffner -- He took over, but only lasted a few months after the state's inspector general found that he had been lobbying for a private education company he wanted to work for.
3) Michael Sawyers -- He served as interim Superintendent while Kasich searched for a replacement.
4) Richard Ross -- Kasich's former education czar, who infamously once told a room full of Appalachian superintendents that their communities weren't as poor as they claimed, was the longest serving Superintendent. His term was rocked by scandals, as it was found that he was going behind the State Board of Education's back on the Youngstown Plan and he oversaw the David Hansen scandal.
5) Lonnie Rivera -- Served for a few months as Department head, though long enough to pen a response to the federal government's questions about Ohio's charter school grant application that netted the state $71 million to increase high-quality charters here.
6) Paolo DeMaria -- Current State Superintendent who has made several questionable assertions about various education policies.
So, that's 6 superintendents in 5 years. Remember that Kasich's predecessor had two in 4 years, keeping his predecessor's superintendent for his first two years in office.
Notice I'm not mentioning the State Board of Education in this post. Technically, the superintendent works for the board. But in this era of hyper-politicization of the department, it's clear that this choice is the Governor's.
Let me ask you all out there a question: If you had 6 bosses in 5 years, how well do you think your operation would run?