In case you missed the memo, early voting for the May 8 Ohio gubernatorial primary started this week. Building off our national Eduwatch coverage of the 2016 presidential election, Fordham Ohio presents a look at the primary candidates for governor.

Below you will find—in their own words as much as possible—the positions of candidates in the Democratic primary on various education issues in the Buckeye State. (We list them in alphabetical order.) It is worth noting that two of the candidates’ running mates currently hold positions relating to K–12 education.

The corresponding collection of quotes from the Republican primary candidates can be found here.


Richard Cordray (former Director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former Ohio Attorney General). Running mate: Betty Sutton (former U.S. Representative)

1. ECOT: ECOT will be a key issue this year because it “represents the culture of corruption” under Republican rule. February 2018.

2. Charter schools: “The for-profit charter schools have been a scandal… We've got $70 million missing in Columbus that we're never going to see again. And $1 billion poured into charter schools that have been so scandal plagued.” March 2018.

3. Education governance: “It would be a good thing for the governor of the state of Ohio to have more direct control over education policy in this state. It has been badly fragmented for years.” February 2018.

4. Career and Technical Education (at the community college level): “There is a lot of very sophisticated job training that we are doing around Ohio. Some of these jobs are more complicated today than they have ever been before. Generally computers are part of just about every job.” February 2018.

5. Pre-K: “This is exactly the problem in the state of Ohio…You have a state legislature that has this mania for giving more tax cuts to the rich. And all of that money comes out of local services and programs. First responders, in this case [pre]schools—the local communities are being hurt to fund an ideological agenda in Columbus and it’s not good for the state of Ohio.” February 2018.

6. School funding: The state needs to examine school funding… The primary property tax model still produces inequality among communities. February 2018.

7. College affordability: Free community college for all Ohioans is “a win-win for Ohio businesses and workers… It is affordable. The cost is modest.” April 2018.


Dennis Kucinich (former U.S. Representative, former Mayor of Cleveland). Running mate: Tara Samples (Akron City Councilwoman)

1. School funding: “Ohio public educational funding has been subverted by special interest groups and for-profit charter school management companies, who through campaign contributions have, in the past decade, normalized the privatization of public education funding, creating an often substandard, for-profit system ‘education’ system, using and misusing billions of dollars in public funds.” February 2018.

2. Charter schools: “The normalization of what is essentially a wholly corrupt system constitutes one of the greatest scandals in the history of the state of Ohio because billions of public funds have been diverted away from public education and have enriched private, for-profit enterprises.” February 2018.

“I’m not saying shut [charter schools] down…I’m saying local control. Give people a voice... This then becomes a public discussion instead of a situation where acts of the legislature are rigging a system in favor of for-profit management companies whose principals then turn around and give money to legislators and other state continue the process.” February 2018.

3. HB 70/Youngstown Academic Distress Commission: “There are people inside the process not happy about recent turn of events where the privatization of the Youngstown City School District is being seriously considered…I was contacted by someone inside [with this information] and I am quite satisfied the information I have is accurate and needs to be made public. We are talking about lives of thousands of Youngstown city schoolchildren being set at odds to profit motives.” February 2018.

4. HB 70/Lorain ADC: “I recommend two things. One, you can proceed with court action challenging the provisions of HB 70 that effectively removes power of the board. Two, this board and people in Lorain have the ability and the right to file charges against the CEO, put them in the form of a petition, get the requisite amount of signatures, and then submit to the Common Pleas Court of Lorain County for a decision.” March 2018.

“House Bill 70 was an anti-democratic bill.” March 2018.

5. College affordability: “The idea [of free tuition for the first two years of education at public universities or colleges] is that no one should be denied an opportunity to start or continue going to college.” March 2018.


Bill O'Neill (former justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, former nurse, Vietnam War veteran). Running mate: Chantelle Lewis (Lorain City Schools elementary principal and former East Cleveland City Councilwoman).

1. School funding: Ohio’s education funding process is “a tragedy of epic proportions.” January 2018.

O’Neill blasted Ohio’s “illegal funding system” for producing a “failing education system.” January 2018.

2. Education governance: “When elected, there will be a seat created in my cabinet for the czar of education with the full authority of the governor's office to fix this problem once and for all.” He said that his running mate, Chantelle Lewis, would be that czar. January 2018.


Joe Schiavoni (state senator and former Minority Leader of the Ohio Senate). Running mate: Stephanie Dodd (elected member, State Board of Education).

1. Accountability: “I think we need to have accountability and transparency for all schools. We are making progress with that in the Senate. I do believe we need accountability and transparency for charter schools too.” May 2017.

2. College affordability: If Ohioans purchase a home within five years after graduating from college in Ohio, the state may help forgive part of their student loan debt. January 2018.

3. ECOT: “ECOT failed many, including the state’s tax-paying public…Those millions of dollars of unearned revenue could have gone to much more effective use had they been channeled toward the state’s financially struggling but much more closely monitored public school districts.” January 2018.

4. HB 70/Academic Distress Commissions: “I believe a state ‘takeover’ is a lazy solution to Ohio’s longstanding and worsening problem of poverty and its effect on student success.” January 2018.

5. Wraparound services: “Every legislator and candidate for governor should take a trip to Cincinnati to see how that city is addressing poverty. They use a wraparound service model, which includes teachers, city officials, nonprofits, business owners and the community in education.” January 2018.

6. Education governance: “There is no honorable excuse for removing the elected voice of parents and students from education. On top of that, combining agencies doesn't remove inefficiencies. It creates them. We need collaboration between real leaders to improve Ohio's education system…The GOP could easily work to address these issues without a government restructure that will have lasting consequences for future generations of Ohioans.” February 2018.

Ohio Education Gadfly