John Kasich: Schools must partner with religious groups to receive mentoring funds

Republican Ohio governor includes religious requirement in $10 million education package

Published December 15, 2014 4:13PM (EST)

  (AP/Tony Dejak)
(AP/Tony Dejak)

Though he's a former Fox News host and generally a down-the-line conservative, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been cast in the role of the Reasonable Republican. Unlike many fellow GOP chief executives, Kasich accepted federal funds to expand his state's Medicaid program under Obamacare, and he has forcefully defended that decision in the face of right-wing opposition, even though it could prove a political liability as he contemplates a White House bid in 2016. But while Kasich has alienated some conservatives with his Medicaid stance, his latest policy move is much more likely to win the applause of Rick Santorum & Co. reports that under the governor's $10 million mentoring program for public schools, a school district must partner with both a religious organization and a business or a nonprofit established by a business. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

According to the website, Buddy Harris, a senior policy analyst at the Ohio Department of Education, told a group of religious and nonprofit leaders that the Kasich administration doesn't "foresee any proselytizing happening between mentors and students."

Asked why the governor included the religious requirement, a spokesman told, "The governor believes faith-based organizations play an important role in the lives of young people."

But the governor's own words undermine his administration's claim that the religious requirement isn't about proselytization. In a video made for applicants to the program, Kasich said, "The Good Lord has a purpose for each and every one of them [students] and you're helping them to find it."

Under the program, schools don't have the option to partner with a business and a secular nonprofit; a religious group must be part of the mix.

What could possibly go wrong?

By Luke Brinker

MORE FROM Luke Brinker

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Education Faith-based Groups John Kasich Ohio Religion Republicans Separation Of Church And State