Local GOP Candidates Forum Turns Into Bible Debate And Attack On Education

screencap of Ohio State Senator Cliff Hite and challenger Corey Shankleton explaining what other rights they would like to restrict in the 1st Senate District.
Ohio State Senator Cliff Hite and challenger Corey Shankleton explaining what other rights they would like to restrict in the 1st Senate District.

A news story concerning a Ohio state senate primary race for Republicans caught my eye the other day. I didn’t attend the luncheon hosted by the Hancock County (Ohio) GOP, but from the news reports it turned into a bible debate, conservative purity check, and an attack on public education.

The attack on education was kind of ironic because two of the candidates, current State Sen. Cliff Hite and Corey Shankleton, are former teachers. Of course Senator Hite got appointed to the Ohio Senate by promising to sell out his teaching colleagues by voting for SB 5 back in 2011. SB 5 attempted to take away public employee’s rights to collective bargaining. So, I wasn’t surprised at Hite jumping on the bash public education bandwagon.

“It’s time we take our party back from those who have hijacked it and moved it to the left, like my opponent has,” said Shankleton, a pastor running for Hite’s seat in the 1st Senate District.

“We are all Republicans, and we should’ve learned our lesson by now,” said Hite, urging those in his party to “stop the backbiting and infighting.”

No one paid much heed to that plea on Friday.

The heartbeat bill, the latest legislative attempt in Ohio to restrict abortions, became stalled in the Senate last year. That hasn’t stopped pro-lifers from continuing to push for the measure by holding lawmakers’ feet to the fire.

Members of the Faith2Action group who were protesting Hite on Friday said they don’t think he did enough to get the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. His opponents evidently concur.

Shankleton, of Stryker, was wearing one of the group’s “Cliff Hite Let us Down” stickers as he criticized the senator for not forcing the bill to a vote.

Shankleton, pacing the front of the room instead of standing at the podium, also denounced Hite’s vote “to grant special rights to a homosexual agenda,” referring to wage discrimination legislation that included sexual orientation.

“That’s not a value I support,” Shankleton said.

Hite’s other primary opponent, Milo Schaffner of Van Wert, advertised and asserted that his foremost principle is that the Bible is the “divine word of God.” Second is the belief that “a child is born at the time of conception.”

Hite cited an Ohio Board of Regents study, released earlier this year, that showed 40 percent of Ohio’s high school graduates, upon entering college in fall 2012, had to take remedial math and language arts courses.

Schaffner, a staunch constitutionalist who believes in eliminating federal and state control and handing it back to local entities and businesses, said he thinks school standards should be tailored to and adopted by local districts.

GOP candidates clash at city forum

This is what happens when districts are manipulated by a single party. You get three white men debating not issues that would benefit everyone in the 1st Senate District, but they are debating bible verses and how to take more rights away from women and LGBTQs. Then we get an attack on public education.

Besides the ridiculous religious debate, Senator Hite is misleading on the remedial education issue. A news report did note a statewide report showed 40 percent of high school students who got their diplomas in 2012 needed basic math or English classes when they enrolled in an Ohio public community college or university, it also noted it was down from 41 percent in 2011 and 42 percent in 2010. And this is after decades of “reforms” that just increased the tests students have to take. Obviously, what colleges need for students to learn isn’t meshing with what is being taught. The testing reform isn’t working.

Just because you have the seat in the bag doesn’t automatically mean you can govern. The three candidates don’t have the best interests of all the district residents in mind. Religion should stay in the church, the Bill of Rights should apply to everyone including LGBTQs, and I’m disappointed that former teachers have no clue on how to actually reform public education.

I feel sad for the people of the 1st Senate District.