July 22, 2023

Julie Holderbaum: Fear and Power: What really drives Issue 1 on Aug. 8 in Ohio

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Julie Holderbaum is a veteran teacher in Ohio who brings a classroom perspective to legislative shenanigans. Here she explains the newest attempt by Ohio conservatives to grab power.

A teacher tells his students that phones are not allowed in class. One day, a student points out that the teacher is often on his phone. The teacher replies that the rule doesn’t apply to him, only to them.

A student turns in a research paper a day after it is due. The student knows that 10% will be deducted from the final score, which is the teacher’s late work policy established at the beginning of the year. However, the paper is returned with 50% deducted from the grade. When the student questions the teacher, the teacher simply says that she changed the rules.

A teacher decides to allow students to vote on whether to have homework assignments during the school year and 59% of the students vote not to have homework. When the teacher shares the results, a majority of the students rejoice! But then the teacher announces that since the NO votes didn’t reach 60%, homework is going to stay.

Any credibility these teachers had would be damaged at best and quite possibly destroyed by these actions. Not following their own rules? Changing the established, fair policies to much harsher ones? Eliminating majority rule? These teachers would be viewed by their students as hypocritical, manipulative, and untrustworthy…which is exactly how we should view the Ohio legislators who support Issue 1.

In December 2022, the state legislature voted to eliminate August elections. But now those same lawmakers argue that the rule they enacted doesn’t apply to them; it only applies to small, local elections.

Why the change of heart? Because a grassroots group of Ohio citizens has submitted petitions to get an amendment on the November ballot that would protect reproductive rights in Ohio.

Many Republicans, who hold a supermajority in Ohio, do not want to see the citizen-based reproductive rights amendment pass in Ohio. So they concocted a plan. They decided to make it more difficult for a citizen-based amendment to pass, but they realized they needed to do that before the reproductive rights amendment appears on the ballot in November … and that means having an election in August, something they banned less than a year ago.

Proponents of Issue 1 say its purpose is to defend the Ohio Constitution against frequent attacks of special interest groups. What legislators are really trying to protect is their own power.

Teaching civics in Ohio just keeps getting harder. Read the full column here. 

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