For Immediate Release: September 29, 2015
Education Reform Advocates Demand More Charter Accountability
Before Ohio Gets $71 Million for New Charters from Federal Government
COLUMBUS – Although Ohio’s charter schools are the subject of national ridicule and multiple investigations, the US Department of Education awarded the Buckeye State the largest slice of a new $157 million fund to expand charter schools, and it concluded that Ohio’s application for the money had “no weaknesses.”
“Ohio’s money should be withheld until it fills the vacancy of its charter oversight office with a highly qualified educator,’’ said ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis. “Only then can we have confidence that our money will be well spent and our kids well served.’’
Stephen Dyer, education fellow at Innovation Ohio, agreed that the money should be put on hold.
“Ohio clearly needs a much stronger mechanism in place to ensure that our state’s few high-performing charter schools benefit and ne’er-do-wells do not,’’ Dyer said. “The grant runs contrary to overwhelming evidence that Ohio’s charter school regime is broken. National charter school advocates have called Ohio the “Wild, Wild West” of charter schools and ranked its sector’s performance as among the nation’s worst.”
Federal officials announced Monday that Ohio would get $71 million of the $157 million allotment. According to the education department’s Technical Review, Ohio scored 12 of 15 for “Oversight of Public Chartering Agencies,” 15 of 15 on “High-Quality Authorizing and Monitoring Processes’’ and 7 of 10 on “Past Performance.’’
The high scores come amid a recent scandal that forced the resignation of David Hansen who headed Ohio’s charter oversight office. His departure came in July after a newspaper discovered that he manipulated evaluations of some tax-payer funded, privately operated charters to hide the shoddy performances of their sponsors.
According to the Washington Post, when federal officials were asked why a state with multiple charter school problems received the biggest federal grant, Nadya Dabby, an assistant deputy secretary at U.S. Department of Education, said she believed Ohio has improved its oversight of charter schools.
“Ohio has a pretty good mechanism in place to improve overall quality and oversight,” Dabb told the Post, although she could not provide details. “We believe Ohio has put practices in place, although there‘s always room for them to grow.”
The addition of the latest grants brings to more than $3 billion the amount the federal government has awarded to charter schools since fiscal 1995.
Federal officials, however, have not tracked how those dollars have been used nor have they studied their academic performance, saying such oversight is the responsibility of the states.