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Religious Requirement For State Mentoring Program Questioned

State schools superintendent Richard Ross added a religious element to a state-supported mentoring program in schools. Governor John Kasich has called on businesses and faith-based organizations to take part. Ross and an advisory board have created a requirement that the sponsoring organization include a "faith-based" partner.  Ohio Department of Education spokesperson John Charlton says the program will give a student  a chance to see how a business leader is successful.

But Chris Link of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says she's gotten more calls and e-mails complaining about the program than on anything in government in recent years, and that's why the ACLU is checking into it.


Link says the governor's apparent preference is a problem.


ODE's Charlton says Kasich and Ross feel including a faith-based group makes the mentoring partnership "more robust."  Charlton says the department is now soliciting grant applications from organizations. Mark Urycki of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.


When Governor Kasich proposed the Community Connectors mentorships at his State of the State address in February he mentioned faith –based organizations but he didn’t make it a prerequisite  
KASICH All of us in Ohio, we’re hungry to help.  We know what’s missing out there; we just don’t always know how to do it.  And the Community Connectors is going to give us a chance to listen to the better angel inside all of us to figure out how to make a difference in someone’s life. :16  
The state will use $10 million dollars a year from state lottery money for mentorships. The state will award the grants in March.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.