Thursday, March 14, 2013

In Memoriam: Jeff Hardin, State Board of Education

A dedicated conservative and a lifelong servant to the state of Ohio and the GOP passed away yesterday. Jeff Hardin, just starting his second term as a member of the Ohio State Board of Education, died from an apparent heart attack at age 58. Hardin, of Clermont County, also represented Adams, Brown, Clark, Clermont, Fayette, Gallia, Greene, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Madison, Pike, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton counties, and part of Pickaway County. From State Board of Education President Debe Terhar:
“I am truly saddened to hear about the passing of my fellow State Board of Education member and my friend, Jeff Hardin. Jeff was a dedicated public servant who understood the importance of serving not only the children and schools in his district, but throughout Ohio. Just yesterday, less than 24 hours before his passing, he made a special trip to Columbus with his son to participate in our board meeting. I join with so many others who knew Jeff in offering my deepest sympathy on his passing to his family and friends.”
Jeff took his job very seriously. From Governor John Kasich:
“Saddened by the news of State School Board Member Jeff Hardin’s death. Prayers for his family as they struggle through this challenging time.”
From State Impact:
During his time on the board, Hardin advocated for rural schools, paying teachers for their performance and holding schools accountable. This is how he described his job in our November 2012 voter guide: This job pays about $4,400 a year on average. I spend time to read about 3,000 pages of research each month just to prepare for board meetings. Our board meetings are 2-3 days per month. This is a thankless job but one I am willing to serve in because someone must commit themselves to doing the job right the first time. I speak for the values of my district and expect schools to teach and not make excuses for failures.
Jeff was also a lifelong Republican and was willing to fight for the cause. In this story, he criticizes that jackarse Jerid Kurtz for using a facebook posting kerfluffle as a fundraising scheme against John Kasich's reelection:
Board member Jeff Hardin of Milford, whose district includes Clermont County, and others criticized the Democratic Party for using the flap as a fundraising effort to defeat Kasich’s re-election bid in 2014.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio Board of Education member Jeff Hardin died yesterday after a lengthy illness. Hardin, 58, of Milford, Ohio, died of a heart attack just hours after making a brief appearance at a board meeting on Tuesday in Columbus. He had recently received a pacemaker for heart ailments and was awaiting a kidney transplant. He had been receiving dialysis for some time. Hardin was ill on Tuesday, and the board moved up its vote for the new state superintendent of public instruction so he could participate. He joined a majority of board members to elect Gov. John Kasich’s top education adviser, Richard Ross, to the post. Immediately after the vote, Hardin left the meeting with his 26-year-old son Ross Hardin, who had been driving him to board meetings for the past few months. “Jeff was a dedicated public servant who understood the importance of serving not only the children and schools in his district, but throughout Ohio,” board President Debe Terhar said in a statement released by the Ohio Department of Education. “Less than 24 hours before his passing, he made a special trip to Columbus with his son to participate in our board meeting.” Mary Rose Oakar, a board member from Cleveland who sat next to Hardin at the meeting, said he did not feel well but wanted to vote for the new superintendent.
I met Jeff at some county events through the years and supported his crusade to get on the state board of education. He was tireless, even though he had several health problems which most people would have just sat back and taken it easy with. Not Jeff. He worked toward every parade, every town hall, every event he could to get the word out that we could finally get some conservative voices on the state board of education. He waged battle against the entire OEA/Ohio Democratic Party machine and achieved victory not once, but twice. He was tirelessly advocating for the rural schools, who seem to get forgotten because typically they are not trouble spots for the state. He advocated for more accountability and local flexibility. He was a fan of this blog as well as our radio shows. It was my hope many times to get him on the show, but scheduling and circumstances always got in the way. Personally, Jeff was a friend. He always encouraged me in my quixotic quest to get back into public education and teach again. He said I could use him as a reference anytime, and that he was keeping eyes out for me for openings and was talking to people about me. He always was interested in my opinion, and he really loved his work. He was also a devoted family man and a man of faith. I will miss his fire and devotion to the cause, his sense of humor, and his knowledge of the issues. As the headline at the Dispatch said, "State school board member loyal to last" Godspeed, Jeff. You will be missed. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and all those touched by the life of this great man, gone too soon.