Today the Columbus Dispatch reported that nearly 30% of Ohio’s charter schools have closed or been shut down since Ohio started its charter school experiment in 1997.

The City of Columbus saw a record-breaking 17 charter schools shut down last year for financial mismanagement as well as “health and safety problems — students weren’t getting nutritious lunches, or the buildings were unsanitary.”

Last week we also read two eye-opening letters from former charter school teachers that shine some much-needed light on K12 virtual charter schools and on a chain of charter schools run by a religious group out of Turkey.

The first piece, titled 15 Months in Charter School Hell, tells a horror story about the large virtual charter school company K12, and how it puts profits above everything else.

According to the author, K12 – which operates the Ohio Virtual Academy here in our state – makes recruiting new students their highest priority.   And they specifically target enrollment by “at-risk” kids who, in theory, ask fewer questions and have lower expectations of their educational experience.  This allows K12 to burden teachers with more classes and more kids, with part-time teachers expected to teach up to 30 classes and 225 students at a time, and full time teachers taking on over 300 students at once!

The other piece, titled How charter schools betray their students and communities, describes the teaching experience at one of Ohio’s 16 Horizon Science Academies, charter schools operated by adherents to the Gülen Movement, a religious group founded by the Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.    The experience was not good.

Low pay and long hours for teachers, bribing kids with candy and free meals to show up during “count week”, mold-filled classrooms, no curriculum, management changing grades and test scores, and large men removing low-performing students during testing weeks .   These schools are the worst of the worst.

This is the reality about Ohio’s disastrous charter school system, revealed by those who spent time on the inside.

Our kids deserve better.

Evangelize!
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  • jr6020

    Kudos to the CD for today’s lead story- I have to give them credit when they do the right thing. Now, will our Legislators and Gov listen to the critics and make the drastic changes needed or just give lip service and continue to collect huge campaigns contributions from these shady characters?

  • anastasjoy

    Almost certainly the latter. The worst of the worst of the charter school operators are the most generous benefactors of Ohio Republicans. Any sane person truly concerned about educator would clearly see the need to abolish for-profit charter schools and institute strict accountability measures. Not the clowns in our legislature!

  • Think.

    It’s good that the CD published this story, but it failed to mention the connection between Ohio’s charter school expansion, Republican legislators, and ALEC. K12 is just one of the for-profit education companies that belong to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which controls the Ohio GOP. Since 1999, K12 has pushed its agenda to replace classrooms with computers and real teachers with virtual teachers. Unless they can wrench their hands out of the cookie jar, Kasich and Republican lawmakers will ignore the fact that a majority of these schools are the worst of the worst.

  • http://ohio15th.blogspot.com StubbornLiberal

    Charter school operators and their Republican supporters are making out like bandits. Charters are paying teachers low salaries because the teachers provide child care before and after the school day. Teachers have no one supporting any problems that they have. Classrooms are poorly equipped and special services are not provided for students who need it. The Republicans love charters because they receive lots of campaign cash from the corporate owners. It is a win win for the GOP. Unfortunately, children, parents, teachers, and taxpayers are all losing.

  • Karen Cremean

    DO YOUR DAMN HOMEWORK!!! Horizon Science Academies are NOT funded by adherents to the Gülen Movement.
    You are so RABID at discrediting charter schools you have lost your credibility.

  • gregmild

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