“Welcome to the dark side,” was the strange greeting conveyed to me at a conference by a well-connected person eight years ago. After delivering that unforgettable remark, the operative (a word chosen carefully) laughed and extended his hand in greeting.
“Thanks,” I replied with a nervous laugh, perplexed about what was behind that curious choice of words.
No, the greeting wasn’t delivered at a meeting of CIA types in a mysterious, remote setting. After all, I was in downtown Columbus, The Heart of It All, but it spooked me just the same. (Is there a pun here?)
Sure, famed spook […]Full Story... →
After the Ohio House removed language from the original version of the Ohio budget bill (HB64), Senate Bill 148 was created, proposing many of the long-overdue reforms to the charter school system that the House dropped. SB148 received strong support from a diverse group of backers, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board, StudentsFirst Ohio, The Fordham Institute, and the Ohio Education Association. Even Darlene Chambers, president of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, expressed support for most of the components of the bill in a May 7 Columbus Dispatch article:
“It is […]Full Story... →
In the Senate’s version of the State Budget Bill (House Bill 64), the author’s decided to include bonus money for charter schools and school districts based on two specific items: four-year graduation rates and third grade reading proficiency (based on whatever third grade reading test the state will be using).
For graduation rate, the formulas are fairly simple: “The school/district’s four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate on its most recent report card x 0.05 x the formula amount x the number of the district’s graduates reported to the department … for the same school year for which the most recent report card was issued”.
The “formula amount” is also being increased […]Full Story... →
Columbus Dispatch readers were shocked, shocked to learn last week that members of Imagine Columbus Primary School’s charter board, protesting that they had no say in negotiating the terms of an operational contract, resigned “en masse” over a lease imposed by the management company that had the school paying $58,000 per month in rent for space to house 150 students, as well as other issues related to the viability of the school.
The board’s action, which did get some attention from the usually somnolent “Ohio’s Greatest Home Newspaper,” was so dramatic that the Casablanca Prefect of Police might have […]Full Story... →
It’s a bad week to be David Hansen, who heads Ohio’s charter school accountability office.
The Columbus Dispatch tells us that the Imagine Columbus Primary Academy, a chronically failing charter, might be forced to close its doors amid concerns over an exorbitant, conflict-laden lease that leaves little money for classroom instruction.
WDTN in Dayton reports that three people were convicted of bribery and taking kickbacks at a Dayton charter.
And today the ODE sent letters to three charter schools (Imagine Cleveland, Villaview and Cleveland Community School) threatening to shut the schools down because their “performance has generally been […]Full Story... →
Back in June, 2000, the Beacon Journal printed an excerpt from a not very subtle letter by Akron businessman David Brennan to Ohio lawmakers. It came directly to the point of a leading Republican contributor interested, as always, in profiling his potential recipients who were meekly laboring in the Capitol’s back rooms:
“Enclosed is a questionnaire that addresses education, economic competitiveness, and civil justice issues. Though you will receive – and likely already have received – other questionnaires, I trust you will take the time to complete and return this one. We are prepared to use responses to act on […]Full Story... →
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... →