Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tell me again why we’re spending taxpayer dollars on charter and private schools?

Charter schools were the great innovators. Private interests would be free from those suffocating public school regulations pushed by Republicans who were trying to bring them down. Private would also spread to non-charter schools too.

But the countries longest running voucher program in Milwaukee has been a failure, not keeping up with the public schools they were supposed to replace.

As it turns out, Ohio is largely in the same sinking boat, and still no one is asking why we’re spending taxpayer money on not just one, but two or three parallel school systems.

Ohio charter schools were apparently in really bad shape shape. Edweek:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill over the weekend overhauling the state's charter-school law, which both anti- and pro-charter groups blame for;

1. corruption  2. financial mismanagement  3. poor academic outcomes.
Kasich said in a statement, "Making sure that our kids aren't stuck in failing schools has been a priority and this bill will profoundly benefit our children."
Except it wasn't a priority for some time. It seems common sense accountability wasn't a part of the GOP's move to charters:
Kasich, a Republican, called on lawmakers to make it a priority following the release of a study from the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes (also known as CREDO) last December. That study found Ohio charter school students were making less academic progress than their traditional district school peers. The new law requires;
1. in-depth financial and academic reporting from schools and management organizations  2. stops charter schools from switching authorizers (sponsors), to avoid getting shut down   3. prohibits poorly rated sponsors from opening new schools.
Even with Ohio's charter disaster, the federal government rewarded them with $70 million: 
An announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that it plans to give Ohio more than $70 million over the next five years to expand high-performing charter schools in the state. The money will come from a competitive federal grant called Charter Schools Program.

Some, including former and current lawmakers and the state's auditor, fear an infusion of cash at this time could exacerbate current problems. "I would want to make sure our reforms are in place before we pour any more money into Ohio's charter schools," Ohio Rep. Kristina Roegner told me for a recent article I wrote this issue. (Roegner's a Republican from northeast Ohio and one of the co-sponsors of the bill.) "Once the reforms are in place, and we get the bad apples out, then by all means, let's grow it," she said.

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