Archives for category: Ohio

Most Dayton charter schools received an F grade from the state of Ohio for failing to teach children in grades K-3 to read.


Most local charter schools got F’s in K-3 Literacy on the recently released state report card, failing to help struggling kindergarten through third-grade readers make adequate improvement.


Of the 15 Montgomery County charter schools that were graded in K-3 Literacy improvement, 13 received F’s. Charter schools accounted for eight of the 10 worst K-3 Literacy improvement scores in the county (of 69 graded schools), with two Dayton Public Schools also on that list.


State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, wondered whether smaller charter schools are making the changes required by the state’s new K-3 requirements, as well as larger public districts that have more infrastructure. She also advised patience with any new measure.


“K-3 Literacy is a new metric, and I think the jury is still out on exactly what it is telling us,” said Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “But this is troublesome. We’ll have to look at this much closer, and hear from the charters why they think we’re seeing this.”


The two top scoring charters managed to teach half their students to read.


While top charters scored better than DPS, the worst charters scored worse than the public district. Only two of Dayton Public’s 19 graded schools scored below 15 percent on the K-3 Literacy measure, while more than half of charters (eight) scored that poorly. The only graded Greene County charter, Summit Academy, also received an F.


Meanwhile Governor John Kasich–and every other Republican candidate– is in New Hampshire and Iowa, touting the success of charter schools. When will our elected officials be honest and admit that there is no secret recipe in charter schools? In Ohio, public schools outperform charter schools, yet state officials are obsessed with charters, charters, charters.



Claymont City Schools demanded that the state of Ohio refund $2.6 million that was subtracted from its budget to pay for charter schools and online schools. When a city leaves the district for a charter school, her funding goes with her (including local funding), but the district still has to pay for staff, maintenance, and services. Other districts have sent a bill to the state for reimbursement of the losses that the state is encouraging.


Charter schools in Ohio have a reputation for poor academic performance and, in some cases, financial malfeasance and political maneuvering to avoid accountability.


Following a growing trend statewide, Claymont City Schools has billed the Ohio Department of Education for the $2.6 million the district says it has lost to charter schools since 2002.
“We’re just trying to make a statement — not that we’re going to get the money back,” Claymont Superintendent John Rocchi said.
His district is losing money to online schools and charter schools, some of which have a poor academic reputation.
“We don’t agree with that,” Rocchi said. “We think local tax dollars should stay with the kids in our district.”
The board of education unanimously approved a resolution Monday authorizing Claymont’s treasurer to invoice the state “for all the funds extracted from the Claymont City Schools District for charter school students.”
In response, Kim Norris, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Education, said, “The Ohio Department of Education does not establish funding for schools.”
Claymont is not the first public school district in Ohio to ask for its money back. In March, the Woodbridge Local Schools Board of Education near Akron billed the state for $5 million. In November,
Parma City Schools sent an invoice to the Ohio Department of Education seeking a refund of $46.1 million.
Woodbridge’s chief financial officer, Deanna Levenger, told the Washington Post in October that $6,890 is transferred from the school district for each student who attends a charter school. The state only provides about $680 per child in basic education funding, so the rest of that amount comes from local tax dollars.
Rocchi said the money Claymont has lost to charter schools could be put back into the district’s budget and used for such things as new technology and facility upgrades.
“Local taxes need to stay local,” he said.


What sense does it make to cut the funding for the majority of public school students so that a small percentage of students can attend low-performing charter schools and online charters?





The Ohio blogger Plunderbund produces documents to show that Governor John Kasich and State Superintendent Richard Ross planned the takeover of the Youngstown City school district. Up until now, they claimed that they were responding to a request from Youngstown leaders to get involved. But Plunderbund says Kasich and Ross initiated the process, not Youngstown residents.


The plan involves having the state takeover after the school board resigns, the local superintendent resigns, and the union contracts are canceled. Then…we may speculate that the goal is to turn the district into an all-charter district, which would meet ALEC specifications. This kind of structural change doesn’t improve schools or education; it doesn’t reduce class sizes or provide more teachers of the arts, more libraries, or more resources for the schools that need them most. It is a fast-track to privatization. We still need to see a proof point to show that privatization has anything to do with improving education.


We know what good education is, and it is not produced by driving out experienced teachers and bringing in low-wage, inexperienced temps and new technology. For examples, look at the best public and private schools in Ohio or any other state. What do they value? Experienced teachers, small classes, the arts, well-maintained facilities, and a supportive community. Neither charters nor vouchers produces those conditions.


The irony of the Youngstown plan is that, as Stephen Dyer of Innovation Ohio showed with state data, the charter schools in Youngstown do not perform as well as the public schools that Governor Kasich wants to get rid of. If the state wants to improve test scores in Youngstown, it should close down those low-performing charter schools.

Bill Phillis, former deputy Commissioner of Education in Ihio, runs the Equity and Adequacy Coalition.

Highway robbery is legal in the Ohio charter industry

The charter industry has been largely deregulated from the beginning. The charter promoters and operators have had unrestrained freedom to use public money recklessly and dumb down educational opportunities for children. This industry is not a part of the common school system but it is a bloated parasite extracting valuable resources from the public system.

It is legal or not illegal in Ohio’s charter industry:

For a for-profit charter school company to hold title to real estate, furniture, equipment and other tangible assets that were purchased with public money
For a charter school board to pay a company allied with their for-profit management company $700,000 per year rent to house 150 students
For a charter school of 600 students to pay $185,000 in year for marketing and promotion

For an online charter school operator to siphon off funds set aside to educate students to operate other private companies that personally benefit the charter operator

For a charter operation to help subsidize a worldwide religious movement

For charter school board members to serve without being a citizen of the United States

For non-profit charter sponsors and charter school boards to pay outrageously high salaries and benefits that would not be tolerated in the public common school system

For a person with no training or experience in education to operate a charter school

For the presence of nepotism and contractual relationships that would not be tolerated in the public common school system

For a charter operator to buy legislation via obscene levels of political contributions

For charters to spend unlimited amounts of funds on marketing and promotion

For charter operators to operate in the dark and be shielded from public exposure regarding illegal activities
The list goes on and on…

Children in public school districts are being robbed of educational opportunities by the transfer of more than $7 billion from districts to the failed charter industry over the past 15 years; yet, state officials allow this fraud on the public to go on and on and on.

Under pressure from the public, the 131st General Assembly passed legislation that will rein in some of the abuse now authorized by law. But big money from the charter industry, ineptitude of the Ohio Department of Education and the $71 million federal grant to expand charters will work together to fatten this failed industry.

The only hope is for the public common school community and advocates to band together to demand the end of this debacle that has utterly failed.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

Stephen Dyer, a policy analyst for Innovation Ohio, wonders why Governor Kasich wants to replace the low-performing public schools of Youngstown, Ohio, with charter schools, since the existing charter schools in that city have worse performance than the public schools of that city, in every subject and in every grade.


Wait, there was one exception where charter schools in Youngstown had higher performance than public schools:


Youngstown outperforms the average charter school in Mahoning County in 19 out of 20 proficiency assessments that measure English, math, science and social studies. On average, the district did better than local charters by nearly 14 percent. The only category that charters performed better was in 8th grade Math, and that differential was only two-tenths of one percent.


Why invest millions of dollars expanding a sector that gets worse results? Why not work with parents and communities to improve the public school system?


Innovation Ohio compared the two sectors here:


COLUMBUS – A comparison of the new state proficiency test data shows that Youngstown-area charter schools based in Mahoning County perform far worse than the Youngstown City School District, which was designated by the state as academically distressed. The new data, released by the Ohio Department of Education, shows preliminary statewide results for the new PARCC tests.

“These findings should be a wake up call to policymakers that diverting more Youngstown money and more Youngstown students into failing charter schools is not the answer,” said Innovation Ohio Education Policy Fellow Stephen Dyer. “It’s clear that the path to turning around Youngtown schools must be more nuanced than simply creating more privately run charter schools.”

Youngstown outperforms the average charter school in Mahoning County in 19 out of 20 proficiency assessments that measure English, math, science and social studies. On average, the district did better than local charters by nearly 14 percent. The only category that charters performed better was in 8th grade Math, and that differential was only two-tenths of one percent.

In June 2015, the Ohio General Assembly passed a controversial plan to eliminate the publicly elected school board in Youngstown and replace them with an appointed commission and CEO whose powers would include the ability to close schools, change contracts and nearly everything in between.

One concerning outcome of this plan is that Youngstown public education system could be turned over to more publicly funded, privately run charter schools. According to news reports and the state’s grant application, Ohio officials planned on using a substantial portion of the controversial $71 million federal grant it received to increase the number of charter schools in Youngstown. The most logical place to start this expansion would be upscaling the charters already in Mahoning County.

“The comparison of this data lays bare the idea that more privatized schools are the answer in Youngstown,” said Dyer. “If we want to improve educational outcomes in Youngstown, we have to have meaningful community and parent input on common-sense approaches that will serve the children of Youngstown with the best possible educations. Pouring millions into the pockets of the current crop of Mahoning County charters would only serve to reward their performance failures.”





William Phillis, a retired Deputy Commissioner of Ohio, leads the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition. He fears for the future of public education because of the capture of the State Legislature by the privatization movement. The greatest danger, he writes, is charters, because they are promoted as reforms when they are a threat to pubic education and an insidious tool for privatization.



He writes:


The privatization of the public common school movement can be stopped: but a different approach is necessary

Many, if not most, public common school officials and public education advocates in Ohio have humored state officials since 1999 about the supposed merits of charter schools; and at the same time have given these state officials a pass on not creating a constitutional school funding system.
So what has been the result of this passive approach?
Loss of tangible personal property tax funds/state reimbursement for the loss
*Current public school funding level at about where it was seven years ago and no progress toward a constitutional system
*$1 billion being extracted from school districts this school year for a grossly failing charter industry
*Harmful education mandates being foisted on school districts
*$200 million being extracted this year from school districts for vouchers
*Charters are the epicenter of the privatization movement.

So what is the definitive goal of the privatizers?

Replace the common school, not supplement it


Eliminate teachers unions, boards of education and the teaching profession as it currently exists
Charters in Ohio have performed less well for children in neighborhoods with a high concentration of poverty; nevertheless, the market-driven reformers, aided by the Wall Street billionaires, education philanthropists and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are moving forward with their agenda-replace the public common school system with a multi-faceted, privately-operated array of education competitors.

It is now time to recognize and renounce the dishonesty and greed inherent in the Ohio charter industry. The Ohio charter experiment is not fixable because it was created under false pretenses and is not answerable to the people it claims to serve.
Common school officials and public education advocates need to engage every community in a campaign to repeal the laws that created the parasitic charter industry.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A
Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

In this post, a high school history teacher says that his students are utterly confused by the new requirements for high school graduation.

So is the teacher.

“Fortunately for our students, the ODE has made the path to graduation simpler by making it more complex. Students may graduate through an acceptable score on a certification in a vocational field. OR They may graduate through receiving a remediation free score on a college entrance test (scores not yet verified). OR They may graduate by earning 18 combined points on the aforementioned state assessments with a minimum of 4 points from 2 assessments in mathematics, a minimum of 4 points from 2 assessments in English Language Arts, and a minimum of 6 points from assessments in Biology, American History, and American Government equaling a total of 14 points with the 4 additional points picked up when students score 3 or higher, which is to say “Proficient or Above.”

“Does that make sense? My sophomores couldn’t explain it to me either, and they’re expected to graduate under that system. Fear not, I provided a thorough and engaging explanation replete with visual aids and low brow humor that seemed to do the trick. I could not, however, provide them with a satisfactory explanation as to why they “have to deal with this sh*t.” (Their words, not mine)….

“Look, maybe my scenario here is confusing. On a very basic level, this new testing system is terribly problematic. The issues lie in the fact that it is new, and being created as we go, but also in the nature of the convoluted paths to graduation themselves. The sheer number of variables at play here are impossible to fathom, from student strengths to test performance, low scores in these areas, but not those, 2 points here, other scores there, nothing formalized until very late. Now, take this level of absurdity and factor in real problems like hunger, poverty, instability in the home, disability, health problems, you name it, and you have a recipe for disaster.

“What seemed like a more humane system to someone is turning out to be nothing short of a nightmare. And now the tests are changing again in ELA and Math. Who knows what new issues may arise?

“How many students will be adversely affected? I don’t know. The ODE deals in percentages, I deal in human beings, the 140 plus sophomores I’m teaching. Like the one who told me, “I left half that math test blank. We hadn’t even learned that stuff yet.” Or the other kid who said, “There were some questions…I didn’t even know what they were asking.” These are good people, hard working kids that we’re simply grinding through this machine for some political rhetoric regarding career and college readiness….

“I have no interest in a punitive high stakes testing system. I am only interested in “Proficient and Above” percentages inasmuch as they impact the kids I teach. I am ashamed to be a part of the implementation of such a system, and I work every day to attempt to remediate its terrible impact. Like many of you, I am angry.”

Dawn Neely-Randall was taking a class training her to recognize bullying. Suddenly she realized she was the victim of bullying–by the state of Ohio. She plans to sue the state and welcomes others to join her.


She writes:


Neely-Randall vs. State of Ohio
Peer Discriminatory Harassment:

This past week, as I was completing an online training module assigned by the Ohio Department of Education via a required harassment/bullying video (so we could know the state laws within the classroom context), the definition of harassment given included to 1) have an intent to harm; 2) be directed at a specific target; and 3) involve repeated incidents. I learned that legally, harassment focuses on how the behavior affects the victim.


As a teacher in the State of Ohio, I suddenly realized that I am being harassed by the Ohio Department of Education’s own legal definition as well as from legislators who are passing harmful laws to hurt me as well as many harmful laws that hurt my students, which totally, unequivocally knock the wind right out of me.

The state is asking teachers to educate and test students in ways that many of us do not feel are morally correct or developmentally appropriate. For instance, very shortly, some districts will test 3rd graders (a test they must pass in order to pass third grade; another form of harassment) for three hours straight. So, eight year olds will sit at a computer for THREE HOURS STRAIGHT taking a high-stakes (high-pressure situation) English Language Arts test so they can pass third-grade, even though, they are only beginning their second quarter of third-grade. Harassment, much?

In addition, “preliminary” raw data were finally released by the state from PARCC. A woman could have conceived, grown, and birthed a baby in less time than it took for students to have received their scores from the state based on their LAST year’s testing. Oh, wait. Students STILL have not received their scores and the school’s “grade card” is not due out until at least the end of January. Yet, the media are already reporting these raw, preliminary numbers, which, in effect, label teachers and schools. Districts in poverty zip codes are looking like failures whereas schools in more affluent zip codes look like they have better teachers. The scores also do not account for if a student made tremendous growth from the time he/she walked into the classroom and instead, labeled the child as “Basic” or “Limited” aka, failures. Labels hurt. Labels don’t go away. Labels on children are a form of harassment.

Our Ohio Department of Education is a mess. State superintendents do not stick around long. Even when I called the ODE to ask about the new AIR tests, the person answering the phone asked me, “Is that spelled A-I-R?” Um, yes, yes it is. It seems that everyone there should know PARCC and AIR by now; especially at the state level.

The charter scrubbing scandal is also a mess. Urban public schools are constantly being told they are FAILING and being threatened with state takeover while the Ohio Department of Education falsified charter information not only to the citizens of the state, but also to the United States Department of Education, and continued to label schools and did nothing to press charges against the person(s) falsifying the data, even though teachers in another state are IN JAIL for doing the same thing.

And on and on and on and on. (I haven’t even mentioned the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System where it took me eight hours to write one lesson plan and a process in which teachers are labeled at the state level based in large part on test scores.)

Bottom line: I feel harassed by the Ohio Department of Education. I feel abused. I feel heartsick with what they are asking us to do in education and the hoops they are requiring us to put our students through. When a special ed student pulls out every eyelash during testing, that’s a problem. When a fifth-grade student breaks down blubbering during a high-states test, that’s a problem. When a child on an Individualized Instruction Plan calls the State of Ohio HIMSELF (with his parents’ help) THREE times because he feels so convinced  about how wrongly he is being treated and the Ohio Department of Education does not have the decency to return his message, that’s a problem.

And during the high school years, in which it should be a student’s glory days and life preparation time, they are putting students, who are already being slammed by society, under tremendous stress and pressure by making teenagers the guinea pigs for their constant shifting of requirements for graduation.

Yes, I feel harassed and finally, I’m going to do something about it.

I will be looking for an attorney to represent me in a lawsuit against anyone harming the children, and thus, me, on my watch.


If you, too, feel harassed, please feel free to send me a note. (I’ve already heard from several people.)

If you know of an attorney, legislator, anyone who can help me to get this process off the ground, I’d really appreciate it.

I will be calling my union for help first. However, this is not on behalf of my amazing school or my supportive superintendent. This is on behalf of me, myself, and I. The state has crossed the line many times in the past few years, but their Peer Discriminatory Harassment online module taught me that I, too, am a victim of abuse. I will use their words in this lawsuit, not mine.

On behalf of teachers all across the state, I’m not going to let them blacken my reputation or bruise me any longer. Feel free to join me.
Stay tuned.



Dawn Neely-Randall

Denis Smith used to work for the Ohio Department of Education, where he oversaw the charter schools. Now that he has retired, he can speak freely.


In this post, he reflects on the recall of faulty cars and airbags. And he wonders, what if faulty charters could be recalled?


The post is priceless for the number of links to industry malfeasance.


He includes a long list of charter industry failures, suggesting that embezzlement and cooking the books is not a one-off phenomenon, but a systemic failure.



Here are some examples of problems in that other, non-automotive, non-manufacturing industry:


A record 17 industry locations in one city – Columbus – closed in just one year.
One of the industry’s treasurers embezzled nearly $500,000 from several locations, earning a two-year prison sentence.
An executive in the industry, operating under a phony consulting contract, also embezzled about a half-million dollars, while employee salaries had to be cut in an economy move.
In Cleveland, five industry executives were charged with stealing nearly $2 million in a scheme that saw the creation of five shell companies to receive public funds. Even the board chairman, who owned the building in which the industry operated, was part of the fraud that was detailed in a 32-count indictment.
Three industry treasurers were singled out several years ago for their responsibility with more than $1 million in “questionable spending,” according to audit findings.

In its recent grant competition for the proliferation of charter schools, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $71 million to Ohio, the largest grant to any state. As it happens, Ohio has been the site of numerous cases of charter corruption. The press was filled almost daily with the latest charter scandal. In addition, the state official responsible for charter oversight ignored the low grades of online charters, who are known for their generous contributions to the GOP. This official resigned (his wife is the campaign director for Kasich’s presidential bid).

Thus, when Ohio was singled out by the U.S. ED to receive a huge grant to create more charters, there was a collective gasp from the media in Ohio and from Democratic officials (remember, the same party as the Obama administration), some of whom must have seen the grant as a reward to the Kasich administration.

Now, the U.S. ED says that it will watch Ohio’s charter spending with more than the usual care (the usual care being none at all). That’ll show them.

Valerie Strauss posts a copy of the letter from the U.S. ED to Ohio, saying that it will monitor the charter grant. ED didn’t know about the Ohio charter school scandals. And she says, you can’t make this stuff up.


Who didn’t know that Ohio’s charter schools had become a national joke — literally. The Plain Dealer ran a story this year that started like this:

Ohio, the charter school world is making fun of you.

Ohio’s $1 billion charter school system was the butt of jokes at a conference for reporters on school choice in Denver late last week, as well as the target of sharp criticism of charter school failures across the state.

Wouldn’t you expect someone in the federal government considering giving millions of dollars to Ohio for charter schools to have read the June 2015 coverage in the Akron Beacon Journal which said:

No sector — not local governments, school districts, court systems, public universities or hospitals — misspends tax dollars like charter schools in Ohio.

But the U.S. Department of Education had NO idea!





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