Ohio Law Would Force Public Schools To Share Levy Money With Charter Schools

photo of Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman
Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman (D) supports taking money from public schools

This was a very scary read in the Columbus Dispatch. It seems a bill in the Ohio legislature, if passed, would require the Columbus City School District to share future levy funds with charter schools in the city. Some Democrats including Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman support the slap to Unions and voters. He and other supporters claim that the measure would improve education in the city but current science doesn’t support that view. The bill is another attempt to corporatize education and give a big pay day to Charter school operators.

The bill calls for a Columbus school levy on the fall ballot, along with a recommendation to share some of the levy money with successful charter schools. It also would create an independent auditor to investigate district operations.

The district is being investigated by the state auditor’s office and the FBI for changes in attendance data.

“We believe these checks and balances will prevent wrongdoing in the future and earn back the confidence of the community,” Coleman told the House Education Committee.

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Cheryl Grossman, R-Grove City, and Tracy Maxwell Heard, D-Columbus, who cited data showing that students are more likely to attend a high-rated school if they attend a Columbus charter school than a district school.

Coleman, Gee pitch Columbus school proposal to legislators

The attendance data issue was a witch hunt used to wedge open the door to privatization. Like many large urban school districts, Columbus City schools has had some management issues.

What is true about Charter schools is that they are non-union, cherry pick the type of students they accept, and are not accountable to voters like public schools. Charter schools also don’t do better than public schools:

That is the clear message of continuing analysis from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, which tracks student performance in 25 states. In 2009, its large-scale study showed that only 17 percent of charter schools provided a better education than traditional schools, and 37 percent actually offered children a worse education.

A study released this week by the center suggests that the standards used by the charter authorizers to judge school performance are terribly weak. 

More Lessons About Charter Schools

As Plunderbund reported earlier this year about several large Charter school operators here in Ohio:

Of [White Hat Management’s] 27 schools: 9 received a C grade, 11 a D and 7 received an F. Final GPA: 1.07.

Kasich spoke at ECOT’s graduation ceremony last year despite the long list of failures on the part of the school. Just to cover a few, ECOT:

Has had consistently flat or declining test scores for a nine year period
Has graduation rates of below 35% over that entire time (consistently 20 points lower than Cleveland Schools’ scores)
Has attendance rates that are consistently below the state average
Has student achievement scores that are significantly below state averages
Received 36% more in per pupil funding than the state average
Is run by an unlicensed superintendent and unlicensed assistant superintendent who are each being paid over $100,000 per year (above statewide averages)
Pays teachers an average salary of $34,450, well below the state average of $55,812.

For-Profit Charter School Operators Fund Kasich, Faber and Batchelder

And there is this:

While 92 percent of the state’s public school districts scored effective or higher on this year’s report cards, only 26 percent of charter schools did. Locally, no charter school fell in the top three ratings.

Only four schools, or 1 percent, of charter schools are at the highest rating. That compares to 138, or 23 percent, of public schools. Sixty-nine, or 19 percent, of charter schools are at the lowest rating, academic emergency. Only two public schools are there.

Charter schools fail to make top ratings

Treating education as product to be bought and sold without any oversight from voters is a road to ruin for this country. Nothing good really happens when you put profit over people. As the Dispatch article notes, the bill only applies to Columbus City Schools but could be expanded across the state.

I’m disappointed that any Democrat would even consider this scary bill. I want to keep my ability as a voter to oversee education in my district and I want any problems to be solved by working with the Teacher unions. If this bill makes it into law I can promise I will never vote for a Columbus school levy again.

2 Replies to “Ohio Law Would Force Public Schools To Share Levy Money With Charter Schools”

  1. You may want to get your facts straight (especially when writing about education). Most charter schools are located in the Big 8 urban districts, and they outperform the schools there – particularly in Cleveland, Dayton and Columbus. There are few urban schools in the top categories – charter or district – period. One third of charter schools are dropout recovery schools or schools that serve students with Autism and Aspergers – yet get rated with the same method (soon to be changed). NO charter high school or K-3 school can achieve the top rating, because that requires Value Added, which is only calculated for schools/districts with grades 4-8. Students in ecot have life barriers – pregnancy, parenting, criminal involvement, mental health issues, have been bullied in their district schools, etc. Hardly cherry picking. And, exactly what do you mean about being “accountable?” Charters report the SAME student, staff and financial data to the state as districts. Charters report enrollment and attendance monthly – something Columbus City should do. Charters get audited by the State Auditor. If we took your logic – judge all by actions of a few – then we should shut ALL the DISTRICT schools because of course they are just like Columbus City. The only White Hat schools in Columbus are Life Skills. It is not in the plan to share local tax dollars with any charter schools except those approved by the commission. Absolute bs that charters get more money. They get more STATE money than districts because charters ONLY get state money. Districts get state plus local. The average district student is funded at approx $10,000 a head, the average charter student about $6,500. VERY misleading to state that charters are funded more than districts.

    1. I stand by the facts provided in my post. You forgot to mention that charter schools can and do close down suddenly and without warning like a business leaving children and parents scrambling to find a new school – public schools can’t close suddenly like that. You admit that charter schools don’t get the same scrunity that public schools do which is my point about acountablity. As for cherry picking charter schools can and do pick and choose who can be a student yet by law public schools don’t have that choice – it has to accept all students. The commission you mention is not elected by the voters but appointed by the government unlike public schools who are controlled locally by school boards. If you want to deal with problems in the public schools one way NOT to do it is to take money away from it and give it to a for-profit venture with sketchy results and no local oversight.

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