Charita M. Goshay: Ohio walking the dog on charter schools

The Canton Repository | Charita Goshay

Proposed legislation to allow dogs to accompany their owners at outdoor restaurants might break a land-speed record in Columbus for approval.

Meanwhile, the quagmire that is the state’s charter-school system deepens with every new school year.

A new report published by researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education indicts a system that has made it more difficult for poor families who repeatedly have been told education can be their way out.

The report states that while Ohio tops the nation in closing problematic charter schools, it also allows 97.8 percent of low-performing charters to stay open.

Fewer than half of the students who are forced to find a new school end up in one that’s better.

The Stanford report also found that as charters schools are being forced to become more academically and financially accountable, average annual closures have increased from 18 to 25.

Golden goose

For years, we’ve gotten it backwards. No one needs high-performing schools more than children who are at most risk. The problem with charters is the promise. When they began opening in Ohio, proponents said they would offer children a better alternative to low-performing public schools.

Instead, what families got was a revolving-door system of unexpected closings and bottom-of-the-heap graduation rates and test scores. What taxpayers got was a two-headed monster that took taxpayers’ money and failed to educate while weakening public systems already struggling with shrinking tax bases and population.

Ohio has been the golden goose of charters, particularly when you consider that collectively their test scores rarely surpass public schools’. The average graduation rate for charter schools is 70 percent compared to the national public-school rate of 85 percent.

For two years, Bill Lager, founder of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), has been fighting a ruling to reimburse Ohio $60 million of the $105 million in public money ECOT received to educate 15,000 students.

The problem: only 6,300 ECOT students could be verified.

ECOT even ran TV ads attacking the Ohio Department of Education — using taxpayer money, no less. It was a bridge too far for state Auditor Dave Yost, who practically has been standing alone in fighting ECOT.

Read the full op-ed here.

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