Ohio Mentoring Plan Requires Religion in Schools

Ohio Mentoring Plan Requires Religion in Schools December 16, 2014

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio announced a $10 million program to put mentors in schools for at-risk students and said nothing at all about religion, but it has now been revealed in the implementation of the program that a student can’t get the mentoring unless a religious group is involved.

Gov. John Kasich’s $10 million plan to bring mentors into Ohio’s schools for students now has a surprise religious requirement – one that goes beyond what is spelled out in the legislation authorizing it.

Any school district that wants a piece of that state money must partner with both a church and a business – or a faith-based organization and a non-profit set up by a business to do community service.

No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars.

“You must include a faith-based partner,” United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants at an information session the United Way hosted Thursday here in Cleveland.

Kitson sits on Kasich’s advisory panel for the program, called “Community Connectors,” which is taking applications for grants now.

Buddy Harris, a senior policy analyst for the Ohio Department of Education, told the gathering of church and non-profit representatives that each application must include a school district (or charter school) plus a business and a place of worship or faith-based organization in its partnership.

Other non-profits can be involved, he said, only if they involve all three of the other groups. Partnerships between just schools, business and a community non-profit won’t qualify.

“The faith-based organization is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor,” Harris said after the session.

Kasich can’t seriously think this is legal, can he? There isn’t a chance in hell this survives a legal challenge. And it’s absurd on its face, based on the ridiculous idea that in order to be a good mentor you have to be religious.

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