Break Out The Popcorn! Free Movie Offer!

Settle in this chilly weekend for a must-see movie for all of us who care about chuldren!

In just my second month as a State Board of Education member in February 2015, I was invited to a viewing of Episode 1 hosted by the Red Cross, United Way, and Children’s Hospital. The research was so compelling that it has significantly informed all of my conversations since about early childhood education and classroom management.

The series is FREE through April 17th!

The Raising of America Series is a five-part documentary series that explores the question:
Why are so many children in America faring so poorly? What are the consequences for the nation’s future? How might we, as a nation, do better?

The series investigates these questions through different lenses:
What does science tell us about the enduring importance of early life experiences on the brain and body?
What it is like to be a parent today?
And what policies and structures help or hinder the raising of healthy, happy and compassionate children?

The Signature Hour covers all three of these issues. The four subsequent episodes each dive in for a closer look.

A Note on Terminology
The Campaign—Sparking a National Conversation
The Raising of America Campaign films and resources are being used by hundreds of organizations concerned about the futures of young children and their families. Campaign Partners and others are holding community dialogs, policy forums, classes, trainings and other events to spark new conversations about what we as municipalities, states and the nation can do to make a strong start the birthright of every infant in the U.S, perhaps the most prudent investment any nation can make. Campaign Partners include both nationwide organizations with a broad reach and community organizations which dig in at the local level.

The Companion Website
The Raising of America Companion Website is the online, interactive hub for learning about the project and the issues. It provides interactive learning activities, discussion guides, toolkits, video clips, and background information. The website is also the go-to hub for resources to host effective screening events, and to link up with other organizations working to strengthen young children, families and communities.

What is the Series About?
Recent studies underscore repeatedly how a child’s earliest surroundings and interactions shape the developing brain, building the foundations for life-long emotional, intellectual and even physical health and development. Exposure to a nurturing or adverse environment in the early years affects how we think, feel and relate to others as we age, our capacities for empathy, impulse control and even love.

When parents are pressed for time, money and resources, their babies pay the price. Child well-being in the U.S. has fallen to 26th out of 29 rich nations. An increasing number of children grow up with learning, behavioral and physical health challenges. But our kids’ health is not all that’s at risk, researchers argue. By squeezing young families and under-investing in early childhood we are also under-developing America. If we want children to do better in school and in life—and the nation to prosper—we can’t wait until they enter kindergarten.

The studies are many, they are strong and they are persuasive. Yet little or no popular media until now have translated these scientific findings into a compelling new story capable of changing the way parents, practitioners, policy makers and the public think about society’s responsibilities and interest in these first crucial years. The conventional default explanations of child development—good vs. bad parents, genetics and cultural dysfunction—still predominate. Perhaps not coincidentally, little progress has been made in improving outcomes for America’s children.

The Raising of America seeks to spark a first-ever national conversation which asks: what can be done to better assure the conditions all babies and young children need to thrive? Will the U.S. squander its own future, or will it invest in its youngest children and their families?

A Repot from Ohio: John Kasich is N ot a Moderate and Ohio is Paying the Price

From the HuffPost Politics

Posted by ODP Chair, David Pepper

03/23/2016 02:46 pm ET | Updated Mar 24, 2016

Follow David Pepper on Twitter:

Here in Ohio, Democrats are watching the Republican debates intently like everywhere else. But there is one man on the stage we are especially fascinated by — the one who claims to be a moderate. The self-proclaimed adult in the room. The one who says he works across party lines. The one who is tired of everyone else being so gosh darn negative.

This Republican appears so reasonable that Chris Matthews now suggests that Hillary Clinton should choose him as her running mate. And Democrats in other states are beginning to wonder if he is reasonable.

But here in Ohio, Democrats are asking a different question — who is this man and what has he done with the governor we have dealt with since 2010?

Because the John Kasich we have endured since 2010 has been neither a moderate, nor an adult in the room. To the contrary, the far-right policies he has pursued have left a trail of problems that our next governor will have to contend with beginning in 2018. Here are just a few examples:

Attacking Workers

Kasich now claims to have a unique relationship with blue-collar workers. However, he has dedicated much of his time in Ohio to attacking those very workers. In one of his first acts as governor, Kasich attacked public employee unions more fiercely than even Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. He pushed a bill called Senate Bill 5 that would have destroyed collective bargaining for every state and local worker in the state. He declared the legislation essential to Ohio’s economic future, crisscrossing the state to convince low-income workers and other Ohioans that their life would only improve once teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters made less money and had fewer rights in the workplace. Ohio voters strongly disagreed with Kasich’s cynical effort, placing the issue on the ballot and handing the governor an embarrassing defeat.

But his attacks on workers didn’t stop there. Just last year, with one stroke of the pen, he unilaterally eviscerated the bargaining rights of child care and home care workers. Thousands were instantly dumped from a union they had voted to join.

Trickle-Down Economics

Guided by the same philosophy, Kasich has been a one-trick pony when it comes to Ohio’s budget. Unfortunately, that trick has been the same trickle-down economic philosophy which has never worked nationally and doesn’t work at the state level either.

Budget after budget, Kasich simply gives bigger tax breaks to the wealthiest Ohioans, paid for by the following:

Raising taxes (primarily through a higher sales tax) on those with less, and
Raiding funds previously dedicated to local communities and schools.
On the former strategy, Kasich proposed raising taxes even further on those unable to afford them, and giving out even bigger tax cuts to those who didn’t need them. But his own legislature stopped him.

And the latter strategy has led to continued, painful cuts and layoffs in thousands of communities across Ohio, combined with a flood of measures adding or increasing taxes at the local level. Some villages are literally disappearing from existence, and many other communities remain in fiscal distress years after the end of the Great Recession.

On the debate stage, Kasich is fond of saying that power and resources must be returned to the local community level. As governor, he has done the exact opposite, using the funds of local communities and schools as his piggy bank for greater state spending and tax cuts.

For-Profit Education Scandal

Kasich not only gutted school funding across Ohio to pay for his high-end tax cuts, his broken “model” of school choice has become the laughingstock of the nation. The model is simple: major Kasich and Republican donors have created for-profit schools that are consistently the worst-performing schools in the state. But as public schools and higher performing non-profit charters have been slashed, these failing for-profit schools have only seen their support increase over the same period of time. Their owners and operators are making millions of dollars in profits while delivering abysmal results for Ohio’s kids.

To conceal the failure of this corrupt system, Kasich’s Department of Education was caught changing the scores of the worst-performing for-profit schools — even including the “baked” scores in an application for federal Department of Education funds. The grant was awarded, but it’s now on hold pending an investigation into the falsified data. This burgeoning scandal — known as “Chartergate” — eclipses even Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” in terms of the dollars wasted, lives impacted and clear connections back to campaign donors.

Kasich attempts to dismiss this activity as coming from deep within the state’s chain of command. However, the official who altered the scores — who has since been terminated — is the husband of Kasich’s then-Chief of Staff, who now serves as his presidential campaign manager.

Most recently, a new scandal has emerged where for-profit “electronic” schools have been caught billing the state for “ghost” students that were never enrolled. More to come.

Women’s Health Care

Ohio Right to Life claims Kasich is “the most successful pro-life governor we’ve ever had in the state of Ohio.” And it’s clear why.

He recently defunded Planned Parenthood even though an investigation into the state’s Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing whatsoever, and even though no state money given to Planned Parenthood could be used for abortion services. The “defunding” simply led to the evisceration of critical health services to families in need.

But that was just the latest of dozens of pieces of legislation the governor signed, sinking Ohio to the level of states such as Texas when it comes to interfering with a woman’s personal decision whether or not to end a pregnancy, choose adoption or raise a child. Kasich even signed a bill imposing a gag-rule on rape counselors from explaining to rape victims all of the options available to them.

Marriage Equality

In 2013, Ohioan Jim Obergefell married his long-time partner John Arthur in Maryland, where the law allowed them to get married. When John died from ALS a few months later, all Jim wanted was to be listed on John’s death certificate as the surviving spouse. Jim prevailed at the district court level and was listed on John’s certificate. Kasich didn’t like this outcome, so he appealed (even as the Republican governor in Pennsylvania chose not to appeal a similar case). Kasich spent a year and thousands of taxpayer dollars trying to remove Jim’s name from the death certificate and erase their lawful marriage from history.

Jim Obergefell had to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to finally have his marriage recognized.

Voting Rights

Since 2010, Kasich has signed bill after bill that have been struck down by federal courts as unconstitutional violations of basic voting rights. At the same time, Kasich put into place the most gerrymandered map in the history of Ohio and one of the worst in the country.

Results? A Model — of What Not To Do

Beyond the misleading ideological label Kasich has now adopted, what the debates and media coverage have also masked have been the dismal results of Kasich’s far-right policies. Trickle-down is failing Ohio just as it has always failed the nation, and Ohio’s education system is in shambles. Here are just a few data points:

Ohio is now in its 39th consecutive month trailing the nation’s job recovery — we have benefited from national policies like the auto rescue and the stimulus, but Kasich’s attacks on local communities and Ohio’s middle-income workers have eroded those benefits versus most other states because Ohio’s middle class is still struggling.
Average Ohio wages are lower now than they were in 1984.
There are more Ohio kids living in poverty today than there were in 2008, and as recently as 2014, our infant mortality rate for African-American babies was the worst in the nation.
One in four Ohio kids live in food-insecure households.
Ohio’s major cities remain largely distressed, with critical funds that would otherwise help alleviate urban challenges having been seized by the state and turned into tax cuts for the wealthy
Ohio’s public school system is seeing a meltdown in its national ranking. When Kasich became governor in 2010, Ohio’s public schools were ranked 5th in the nation by Education Week. The most recent ranking placed them at 23rd and falling fast.
America, don’t be fooled by the purposeful rebranding of John Kasich on the debate stage or the failure of the national media to explain his real record here. He has not been moderate as Ohio’s governor. Anything but.

Sadly, the ramifications go beyond presidential politics, into the real lives of everyday Ohioans in all corners of our state. The far-right policies he has pursued as governor are rendering deep damage to the communities, families and children of Ohio — damage that will take years and a dramatic new direction to fix.

Dem education leaders call for pause on state report cards that harm students


A special thanks to State Board of Education member, A. j. Wagner and Representative Teresa Fedor for standing up for our students and Ohio’s Public Schools!

Dem education leaders call for pause on state school report cards that harm students
State Representative
Teresa Fedor
Contact: Jordan Plottner, Communications Director (614) 466-9034
Dem education leaders call for pause on state school report cards that harm students
Say PARCC test inaccuracies render report cards useless, damage schools
COLUMBUS— State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today joined Ohio Board of Education member A.J. Wagner to call for a pause on faulty state school report cards that the duo says hurts kids, communities and school districts. The lawmakers contend that the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests used to develop the Ohio School Report Card – at an estimated cost of $200 million – were not properly vetted, but in fact were hastily designed and put into use without sufficient validation.
“Every grade on these report cards is tainted by unverified, arbitrary, poorly designed and implemented tests that have been thrown out by the Ohio legislature,” said Fedor, who serves as ranking minority member on the House Education Committee. “The flaws are so pervasive that the grades on the Ohio School Report Cards should not be counted for anything. The state calls it a safe harbor, which should lead one to question: why there are there report cards at all?”
Ohio pulled out of the PARCC Common Core testing consortium in late June with the signing of the biennial budget bill. The move followed months of angry complaints from parents and teachers about technology glitches related to the new online tests, as well as concerns over how much learning time the tests ate up.
“The tests, and therefore the grades, violate standards of fairness. My colleague and I urge students, parents, and communities to ignore them,” said Wagner. “These report cards are not just inaccurate, they are harmful to our children, our schools and our communities.”
More than 17,000 PARCC tests were questioned by school districts after the release of the preliminary results and many of those appeals remain unresolved. PARCC admits that the 35 percent of the tests taken by pencil and paper may have significantly different outcomes than the 65 percent taken on a computer. The state made no adjustments for these anomalies.
Editor’s note: A photo from the news conference is attached.
IMG_6541 .jpg

Local School Districts Band Together To Advocate For Local Control!

More background about important educational issues facing us in Ohio….from Joan Platz, Ohio Alliance for Arts in Education’s Arts on Line Education Update September 7, 2015 (
See “Superintendent: State making it ‘nearly impossible’ to teach” by Hannah Sparling, The Enquirer, August 3, 2015 at
Boards of education are also reacting negatively to Governor Kasich’s veto of a provision in HB64 (biennial budget) that would have ensured that school districts affected by the phase-down of TPP/PUTPP supplemental payments would received no less funding than in FY15.  The veto means that 116 school districts will receive a cut in state funding in FY17 compared to FY15 (about $84 million).  Some school districts are calling for lawmakers to override the governor’s veto when they return to Columbus in September.
See “Ohio legislature might reverse Gov. Kasich’s school-funding veto” by Jim Siegel,
The Columbus Dispatch, August 9, 2015 at
Lawmakers are also expected to take action later this month on HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner), a charter school reform bill that awaits a House response to Senate amendments.  Although the bill seemed to have the support of the Ohio House after Senate approval on June 25, 2015, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and Senate President Keith Faber decided that the bill needed to be reviewed by a conference committee.
See “Ohio lawmakers stall on charter-school reform after they hurried through school choice bill”, by Doug Livingston, The Beacon Journal, June 26, 2015 at
New Audit of Charter Schools Released:  State Auditor David Yost released on September 3, 2015 a special audit initiated on January 14, 2014 for certain community schools sponsored by the St. Aloysius Orphanage, North Central Ohio Educational Service Center (NCOESC), and the Warren County Educational Service Center.  The special audit reviewed the schools’ organizational structure and operations, management companies, and other organizations that provide services.
According to the press release issued by the Auditor’s Office, the Ohio General Assembly should examine current statutes regarding the organization and operations of community schools, sponsors, and management companies, and do the following:
-Establish defined roles and responsibilities and minimum objective academic and financial standards for sponsors to evaluate proposed schools.
-Examine various methods of structuring relationships among community schools, sponsors, and management companies, and enact laws that would prevent arrangements that might be considered improper conflicts of interest.
Auditors also examined a total of $3,727,830 in expenditures by the schools, and identified $27,315 in unsupported disbursements and $4,802 in findings for recovery issued against two community school directors sponsored by the NCOESC.
See “Charter-school sponsor system is ‘broken,’ Yost says” by Bill Bush, The Columbus Dispatch, September 4, 2015 at

Hot Topics @ The State Board of Education

Hi All!

I know it has been a while but things have been pretty hectic!  I continue to meet with my districts, attend events, and to “learn the ropes” of my new position!  I have been posting relevant information on my Facebook page at Pat Bruns for State Board of Education.  On the outside change that you have not been following the news about education in Ohio, below is a good link that will get you up to speed…the July State Board meeting has proven to be a game-changer. 

The link below is a good overview of what we are up against!  FYI:  all the major editorial boards in Ohio have supported our call for an external investigation and recently the Wall Street Journal also weighed in that and external investigation is warranted.

It’s saddens me that there is possibly a culture of mistrust and inaccurate data reporting at the Ohio Department of Education. It is never a good thing when low-level staff are put in the middle. I believe an external investigation would provide employees, under oath, to be able to speak freely.
There is evidently a history of ODE miscalculations that has awarded charter schools more public funds then they would have been entitled to that go back to a settlement of $6 million that CPS received.
Currently pending before the Ohio Supreme Court is a case that the Dayton, Toledo, and Cleveland Public schools have brought that would award them over $10 million collectively. Again, this is the result of funds being diverted to charter schools beginning in 2005. In the case of Dayton public schools alone that require them to turn over $5 million during a school year and resulted in the layoff of over 300 teachers and staff that year.  These are setbacks in a school system that take years sometimes to recover from. In the meantime, children’s academic success and the reputation of the district can be at stake.
On another note, the Ohio Department of Education and the Youngstown City School District has filed a lawsuit against the State of Ohio as a result of the implementation of House Bill 70. Specifically, the amendment that was added in the 11th hour with only one hearing, completely overhauls the governing structure of that school system. A CEO is appointed and the current superintendent and the elected Board of Education are stripped of their responsibilities and powers.  I could send you the analysis of the resolution if you’d like to see it. The original House Bill 70 was cosponsored by Denise Driehaus and had broad bipartisan support. It provided the necessary structure for other school districts to implement the community Learning center model that CPS is using in 42 of their 54 schools at this point…. and that is a good thing!
The Ohio School Board Association distributed a template resolution that many local school districts have adopted in opposition to House Bill 70 as well.

Please continue to spread the word about what’s going on and encourage folks to contact Senator Peggy Lehner, Chair of the Education Committee. I’ll be sending more information about Substitute HB2, which is still pending and would make very good strides in providing more accountability and transparency of charter schools sponsors.

I hope this finds you all enjoying an Artful Day!

🙂 Pat

“Great things do not just happen by impulse but as a succession of small things linked together.”  Vincent Van Gogh


Pat Bruns

2015 State Board of Education Member
District 4 (Hamilton & Warren Counties; part of Middletown)
on FB at Pat Bruns for State Board of Education
On Twitter @VotePatBruns
Register and VOTE!
“If the 99% voted, the 1% wouldn’t matter!”

Board Update!

Hi Public School Advocates!

It has been a very busy first quarter!  I am spending my time visiting local school districts, career and tech centers, parent groups, and other who know much more than me about important issues facing our students.

As I told my fellow board members, upon arrival in January, “I’m not here just to attend meetings”. I will continue to use whatever leverage I have to advocate for policies that will ensure that all of our children, mo matter their zip code, have access to high-quality educational opportunities.  To that end, a number of us on the board have already formed a Pro-Public School Caucus and are working in a more concerted effort on some of the most critical issues before public education;  adequate and equitable funding for public schools, fair and effective teacher evaluations, and whole child education. I am also currently reaching out to folks in the know about early childhood education and  strong supporter of high-quality universal preschool for all children.

The latest vote about the so called Rule 5 of 8 as outlined in the following link, best describes the current situation in Columbus.

Please stay tuned in and push friends to my web and Facebook page at Pat Bruns for State Board of Education. Together we CAN make a difference!

Respectfully, Pat