Two weeks after calling public education "socialism" and saying it should be privatized, state Rep. Andrew Brenner said of those criticizing him with vulgarities: "I'm guessing those people had a public education." The Powell Republican and vice chairman of the House Education Committee wrote another column this week on his wife's website, Brenner Brief News, criticizing those who took issue with his previous column.
Two weeks after calling public education “socialism” and saying it should be privatized, state Rep. Andrew Brenner said of those criticizing him with vulgarities: “I’m guessing those people had a public education.”
The Powell Republican and vice chairman of the House Education Committee wrote another column this week on his wife’s website, Brenner Brief News, criticizing those who took issue with his previous column.
“Many of the comments I cannot repeat due to the crude language involved, and many of those comments were deleted due to vulgarity,” he wrote on Monday. “I’m guessing those people had a public education — common core may have even been involved.”
That comment drew a rebuke yesterday from House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, who was hoping that Brenner incorrectly phrased his remark.
“I have long been a supporter of public education. I will not stand by the comments made (Monday) by the representative,” Batchelder said. “Our caucus has worked diligently to provide a diversity of educational opportunities to students across Ohio, including public education.”
Brenner said yesterday that he probably should have left that sentence out.
“It was more sarcastic from my standpoint,” he said, noting that he has been criticized by some conservatives because he isn’t pushing to eliminate the Common Core, a set of voluntary national standards on what students should know at each grade level in math and English. “I could have worded that differently. Sometimes my humor can be very dry.”
Brenner started attracting attention about two weeks ago, particularly after The Dispatch quoted from his column that called public education a “socialist system” and that “the only long-run solution is to move to a more privatized system,” as Russia did a couple of decades ago. The red hammer-and-sickle flag appeared above the column.
Criticism intensified when the Daily Kos and other liberal websites pointed out that the Brenner site also had this headline for another writer’s column: “Was Sandy Hook a hoax designed to advance gun control laws?”
Brenner said his Twitter account and office were flooded with angry messages. Soon after, that column was removed by Sara Marie Brenner, Andrew’s wife, who runs the site. She replaced it with a message that reads, in part: “We allow writers to control their own content. The Brenners are not personally responsible for the content, and Sara Marie is the only Brenner involved in the operations of the site.”
But critics say that the Brenners are responsible for content on the site. The author of the Sandy Hook column, Fred DeRuvo, was listed as one of the site’s assistant editors, though Andrew Brenner said that is no longer the case.
Brenner said he was unaware that the Sandy Hook headline was posted until he started getting messages. He said he was glad it was removed.
In calling public education socialism, Brenner said, “I wasn’t trying to be derogatory in the way liberals are taking it. This is the system.”
He said he understands why some people do not like him describing public education as socialism.
As vice chairman of the House Education Committee, Brenner deals with numerous pieces of legislation related to public education. He said he plans to publish another column about education policy later this week.
Brenner said students in his district, which ranked first in median household income in 2012, get a good public education and move on.
“I’ve been critical of how we handle it in our urban settings and some of our rural schools,” he said. “We’ve got to start thinking out of the box.”
As for his prior columns: “For those who took offense, I’m sorry they took it the wrong way."