Should Scrutiny of Legislative Foreign Travel be Part of Needed Charter School Reform?
by Denis Smith
On May 14, the Columbus Dispatch carried a Washington Post story about a 2013 congressional junket to Azerbaijan that has come to light recently. According to the Post, 10 members of Congress and 32 staffers, part of a group of more than 300 well-connected Americans, received an all-expenses paid trip to this oil-rich former Soviet Republic and returned with exotic gifts.
In order to provide cover for the congressional junketeers, lest they fall afoul of (heaven forbid) law and regulation, some voodoo accounting […]Full Story... →
Another charter school scandal is in the news. And once again, GOP leaders who collect millions in campaign cash from failing charter schools are suspicious of the allegations but eager to go after the unidentified whistleblower who brought the matter to their attention.
In case you missed it, this scandal involves the Ohio Virtual Academy, a chronically poor performing online school.
The top Republican and top Democrat on the House Education Committee received the whistleblower’s tip that the school failed to dis-enroll hundreds of chronically truant students in order to pad its rolls. The amount of state money the […]Full Story... →
Ohio State Senators Peggy Lehrner (R-Kettering) and Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) were joined Thursday by a diverse group of stakeholder groups at the Statehouse as they announced the introduction of charter school reform legislation, Senate Bill 148 and HB 2, which they claim will increase accountability and transparency for charter school sponsors and management companies in Ohio.
Charter schools have become a hot-button topic in recent years for many reasons, including graft and corruption, poor attendance records, staffing problems and sponsors who can hide much of what they do by law. Gov. John Kasich finally promised to stop […]Full Story... →
Ohio House Bill 2 has now been relegated to “lip-service” status on charter school reform after the GOP-dominated House Education Committee refused to adopt any meaningful changes (including recommendations by Republican State Auditor Dave Yost). When it was introduced, it was allegedly a bill that would be demonstrating that Ohio Republicans, including Governor Kasich, were serious about turning the corner on Ohio’s charter schools and becoming serious about holding them to the same level of accountability as Ohio’s real public schools.
Instead, House Bill 2 has fallen flat. As reported by the Ohio Education Association this week [emphasis-added]:
In […]Full Story... →
The Kasich Administration and GOP-controlled Ohio General Assembly has been all about “education reform” over the last 5 years, with an alleged focus on improving student achievement — especially decreasing the dropout rate. Recent legislation has focused on getting Ohio’s students to graduate from high school with not only a high school diploma, but for those not interested in college, some sort of industry credential.
The Third Grade Reading Guarantee, for example, has been continually touted as a step toward decreasing Ohio’s dropout rate (we strongly disagree with this assertion) and the legislature has held firm on this law even […]Full Story... →
Doug Livingston’s piece on charter schools in Friday’s Beacon Journal blew another hole into Ohio’s billion-dollar cash cow. There have been frequent reports about how this system of privately operated charter schools is failing in its academic mission at taxpayers’ and public education’s expense. But now, as Livingston wrote, David Yost, the Republican state auditor, has just issued his investigative report that much money is being spent on kids who are represented in charter classrooms by empty seats.
And once again the river of money has been channeled into the accounts where it will do the most good for […]Full Story... →
A new study was unveiled this week based on research on education funding in Ohio that shows tax dollars from local levies are flowing to charters schools, most of which under perform local public schools, as state aid for public schools has shrunk dramatically under the Administration of Gov. John Kasich, who was elected to a final four-year term in November.
Using data from public sources, principally the Ohio Department of Education, The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project is a joint venture of the Ohio Education Association and Innovation Ohio [IO], a nonpartisan progressive think tank headquartered in […]Full Story... →
Ohio Gov. John Kasich found another safe, non-threatening venue to push his radical Republican agenda that includes a federal balanced budget amendment in Arizona. Though we suspect not one Arizona legislator will confront the Lord’s choice for governor in Ohio this year, especially when it comes to why he’s silent on spending nearly $1 billion on charter schools that have failed miserably when stacked up against their public school counterparts. But a report released Wednesday by the The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank that authorizes charters in Ohio, shows negative findings overall for students in charters.
[…]Full Story... →
Senate Bill 329, introduced in April by Senator Joe Schiavoni, is finally getting a hearing by the Senate Education Committee this week. The bill is striking in its simplicity — it seeks to hold charter school owners & operators accountable for how they spend public dollars. The simplicity of this bill also reveals just how lax Ohio’s oversight of charter school spending has been for the last decade and a half.
Here’s the one-sentence addition to Ohio Revised Code in SB 329 that could have a drastic change in exposing how charter schools are spending public tax dollars:
[…]Full Story... →
Readers of the Columbus Dispatch were treated to a recent report showing that board members of a North Side charter school asked their management company to reduce a $700,000 per year rent payment to a subsidiary so they could free up more money for things like reading materials, a school nurse and teacher pay. The response from the school’s management company, Virginia-based Imagine Schools, was tone-deaf and totally inappropriate:
An official with Imagine Schools Inc. suggested that the board “celebrate” teachers in other ways, such as having cake for them at the next board meeting….
The person who favors cake over compensation is […]Full Story... →
During the last several months, Ohio newspapers have published a number of articles detailing chronic problems with the state’s charter schools. In particular, the Akron Beacon Journal and Dayton Daily News have performed stellar reporting as they informed their readers about issues related to problems associated with a chain of schools operated by Turkish immigrants that have ties to a controversial exiled Islamic cleric named Fethullah Gulen.
The Beacon Journal informed its readers that a number of the board members of the Chicago-based Gulen charter school chain officially called Concept Schools aren’t American citizens and that State Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, a leading candidate to become the next […]Full Story... →