Statement to Ohio Board of Education February 11, 2013 Meeting

Due to travel and illness, I’m very sorry to be unable to attend this morning’s Ohio Board of Education meeting. I have emailed this statement to every board member, Governor Kasich, J.C. Benton (the Board’s communications person) and both the State House and Senate Education committee leaders. I hope it will be read into the record.

Statement of Jill Miller Zimon, resident of Pepper Pike, Ohio
Ohio Board of Education meeting
Monday, February 11, 2013
In the matter of Board President’s use of a photograph of Adolph Hitler

I know what it is to be an elected official who took an oath to faithfully perform duties in a non-partisan seat. As a city council member, I constantly contemplate how all my constituents, regardless of whether they voted for me or not, rely on and expect me to act with their best interests in mind. However, today, I speak as a parent, taxpayer and resident of Ohio.

The current president of the Ohio Board of Education, an elected official whose constituents include literally millions of children who have no vote, has irreparably compromised faith in her ability to perform her duties, as she has sworn an oath to do, on behalf of this nonpartisan, public, government body and all Ohioans. This lack of faith is a direct result of her intransigence in refusing to recognize and publicly express how wrong she was to offer up a photograph of Adolf Hitler, allegedly to provoke thought on gun policy. In the absence of this faith, the Board president must step down or be removed as leader of this Board.

As the Anti-Defamation League has stated specifically in regard to the Board president’s inflammatory posting,

“Whatever one’s position on the gun control issue, analogies – whether direct or implied — to Hitler and the Holocaust have absolutely no place in the debate over gun control,” said Martin H. Belsky, ADL Cleveland Board Chair, and Nina Sundell, ADL Regional Director.  “While one can disagree with the Obama Administration’s position on gun control, comparisons of his proposals to Hitler’s trivialize the memory of the six million Jews and the millions of other who perished in the Holocaust and are deeply offensive to Holocaust survivors.

“Clearly Ms. Terhar needs an education about the history of the Holocaust,” added Mr. Belsky and Ms. Sundell.  “As a public figure she should know better.  We hope that Ms. Terhar will retract the comparison and apologize.  She should make clear that Holocaust comparisons are inappropriate and a terrible distortion of the history of World War II.”

The social media aspect of this incident has served primarily as a costly distraction to the critical work of this Board. It has also exposed an unacceptable lack of sophistication on the part of the Board president in regard to how social media work and demands implementation of Board social media policies and training.

I thank you for your time and attention and respectfully urge you to act in the best interests of all Ohioans: Please either remove Debe Terhar as Ohio Board of Education president or, I say to Ms. Terhar directly, step down now as Board president and give this public body a chance to rebuild and earn the credibility your presence as Board president keeps in doubt.

3 thoughts on “Statement to Ohio Board of Education February 11, 2013 Meeting

  1. RE: “ignorance and ideology that only serves to make Americans more uninformed”

    Is the Delisle board (which appeased Governor Strickland’s attacks by eliminating Superintendent Zelman) exempt from criticism?

    Sandra Stotsky (The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America’s History Teachers) claims that FHAO (Facing History) materials use “the Holocaust to portray America’s blacks as Europe’s Jews, thereby reducing genocide to an act of bigotry and equating white Americans to Nazis.” (She also dismisses competing claims of “Muslims in the New World Before Columbus.”)

    But Ohio preferred for Gary Nash to vet history standards developed as part of Governor Strickland’s reforms. Here’s the result:

    16. Oppression and discrimination resulted in the Armenian Genocide during World War I and the Holocaust, the state-sponsored mass murder of Jews and other groups, during World War II. [Elaboration: When the Nazi Party came to power in Germany, it capitalized on long-standing anti-Semitic feelings to institutionalize discrimination against Jews (e.g., Nuremberg Laws). The government’s Final Solution resulted in the mass murder of Jews. Other groups of people (e.g., Gypsies, Slavs, disabled) also were murdered as part of the Holocaust.]

    17. World War II devastated most of Europe and Asia, led to the occupation of Eastern Europe and Japan, and began the atomic age. [Elaboration: World War II caused not only physical damage, but also social damage (e.g., refugees, casualties), cultural damage (e.g., lost works of art, residue of Nazi education), and economic damage (e.g., loss of infrastructure, loss of employment). …]

    Those are the key lessons of WWII for Ohio’s Modern World History students.

  2. Thanks, Betty. I. Agree with your concern. Sometimes I just have to stay narrowly focused on what the core problem is – yes, a whole lotta problems with this entire situation and I wish she had self-awareness of the damage and insult of her remaining as president. We just have to keep finding ways to affect the system.

  3. Jill, you showed greater restraint than I could have. Ms. Terhar represents exactly the type of ignorance and ideology that only serves to make Americans more uninformed. Which, as Durant wrote, is the greatest threat to protecting and maintaining a Democracy.

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