Archives for category: Ohio

A coalition of liberal groups called on the sponsor of 11 charter schools to drop them because of allegations of racism, sexism, and test cheating, as well as FBI raids on some of them.

The sponsor, Buckeye Community Hope, refused.

“All of the schools belong to the Concept charter school network that operates in the Midwest. Concept, in turn, is one of several charter systems affiliated with the Gulen movement that has attracted scrutiny nationwide.”

The spokesperson for Buckeye said they will renew all. 9–not 11–Gulen schools. She called the allegations unfounded and accused the groups of “nitpicking.”

“Like all of Ohio’s sponsors, it receives a fee from each school, based on the number of students, for its sponsorship work. A recent report by Bellwether Education Partners, a non-profit research and advocacy group based in Boston, called these sponsorship fees a conflict of interest.”

Laura Chapman read Stephen Dyer’s post about Ohio’s ranking on Education Week’s “Quality Counts” and called for skepticism:

She writes:

“The Quality Counts reports in EdWeek are representing the data that the Gates Foundation wants to see publicized along with mandated reporting from USDE. These data systems have been jointly funded by USDE and Gates since 2005.

“This is to say that every reader of this annual dedicated report on education in the United States should pay attention to what is NOT reported, including, for example, cuts to studies in the arts, physical education, studies in the humanities, foreign languages. The continued use of flawed measures for teacher evaluation, including VAM and versions of SLOs.

“In addition, EdWeek gets editorial support from 18 foundations, and their support is targeted so that, for example, the headlines and prime editorial space this week is devoted to teacher education programs and why so few have been shut down.

“The topical coverage of teacher education is funded by the Joyce Foundation. This reporting is parallel to the launch of full scale attacks on the absence of a national passion for firing teachers…with absurd discussions of the potential benefits of firing 25% in order to raise test scores.

“In other words, what counts as “quality” is determined by those who get to decide, and on what criteria.

“I live in Ohio where charter corruption is rampant, where few voters bother to examine the views of candidates running for the State Board of Education, where there is a data warehousing program that rarely makes the news that it deserves. There are many reasons to question whether education in Ohio is better or worse than last year, or the year before, and so on. Putting too much emphasis on stacked ratings among states, from year to year, is a version of the stack ratings within each state imposed on schools.”

Ohio’s most expensive failing school is ECOT, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. It has theoqesthfaduation rate of any school in the state, yet is never held accountable. It is financed by taking funds away from much more successful schools and districts.

“The Columbus Dispatch wrote recently of the academic failures of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) where the graduation rate of 38% is among the worst of any school in the state. Among Ohio’s 613 traditional public school districts , the lowest graduation rate is 60.9%. In addition, ECOT received all Fs and one D on the state’s most recent report card.

“Despite its abysmal performance record, ECOT continues to expand. More than 14,500 children are currently enrolled, making ECOT the equivalent of the 10th largest school district in the state. The Dispatch story noted that ECOT founder William Lager has donated more than $1 million to Ohio politicians in the last five years as his school has grown exponentially.

“Information at helps clarify the burden that local public schools must bear to cover the costs of students who chose to attend ECOT. Kids in all 88 Ohio counties are impacted. More than 95% of school districts – 586 of 613 districts – have students and money being transferred to ECOT. As one of the state’s 9 statewide e-schools and one of the country’s largest for-profit K-12 schools, ECOT’s poor performance is exacerbated by its extraordinary financial impact on children throughout the state.”

Stephen Dyer, education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio, noted a precipitous decline in the state’s ranking on Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts.”

Ohio was rated #5 a few years ago. Now it is #18.

When Ohio schools were #5, good things were happening:

“In 2010, Ohio, for once, could crow about its education achievements. The state had just passed a landmark education reform plan that won the Frank Newman Award from the Education Commission of the States, denoting the country’s most “bold, courageous, non-partisan” education reform of the year. That package included a new school funding system that the folks who sued the state over its old funding system said put us on the path to constitutionality.”

Why the decline?

“Fast forward to this year. The state ditched that award-winning finance system and reforms. In its place, the current governor tried to replace it with one that was so panned in 2013 that the legislature essentially dropped it and adopted a funding scheme from 2005. The state’s charter school system has become a national embarrassment. And then today, EdWeek released its Quality Counts report. And now, Ohio’s education system ranks 18th in the country.”

Dyer says that charter schools are not the whole story:

“While much of Ohio’s education policy air has been sucked up by the debate over charter schools, their efficacy and what to do about them, I hope legislators and leaders take note of our precipitous drop in these rankings. Many of Ohio’s education policy struggles stem from our state’s charter school disaster. But these rankings indicate that perhaps there’s more going on.

“Remember that 90 percent of our state’s children do not attend charter schools. Let’s not, I pray, forget their needs. For we do at our peril.”

Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy notes that Governor John Kasich has promised to pass legislation requiring accountability and transparency from charters. But will the big campaign contributors who make millions from charters allow any regulation of their profitable enterprises?

Phillis writes:

“Governor: “We are going to fix the lack of regulation on charter schools” – but will ECOT, White Hat Management, K-12 Inc. and other big campaign funders allow it to happen?

“2014 has been the year of exposure of far-reaching financial fraud and educational malfeasance in the charter industry. To cap off the year, reports of two studies commissioned by the pro-charter Fordham Institute were made public. These reports “revealed” what was already known: charters are neither accountable nor transparent and their students lag significantly behind traditional schools in state academic measures.

“What else could the Governor say about charters but that additional regulations are needed? The real test, and the one the public education community should keep on the radar screen, will be the scope and depth of anticipated legislation on charter reform.

“Consider that, of the $57 million increase in charter funding over 2011-2012, the largest increase goes to William Lager’s ECOT and the largest per pupil increase for a charter group goes to David Brennan’s White Hat charters. Brennan and William Lager are among the largest political contributors in Ohio. Will they allow charter reform in Ohio? Charter reform that protects taxpayers and students would put them out of business. What do you think?

“Realistically, don’t expect genuine reform in accountability and transparency in charterland….unless the taxpayers of Ohio demand it. Right now the contest is between campaign contributions and sound public policy.”

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

The Columbus Dispatch published a tough editorial calling on Governor Kasich and the Legislation to pass meaningful regulations for charter schools. It begins:


Ohioans who support school choice long have been frustrated by the dismal performance, overall, of the state’s charter schools.


A study released recently by one of the nation’s foremost scholars of charter schools shows just how dismal: Ohio charters not only perform worse than traditional public schools, but the gap is growing larger.


Fortunately, another, equally credible study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute explains why many of Ohio’s charter schools are weak and how to fix them. These studies should be required reading for every member of the next General Assembly.


Gov. John Kasich is paying attention; in an address on Thursday, he pledged to work with lawmakers next year to develop “tough regulations” for charter schools.


In the first study, the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO), of Stanford University, paired individual charter-school students with “virtual twins” — demographically similar students at a conventional public school from which the charter school draws.


In 2009, on average, Ohio charter-school students and those in traditional schools made about the same amount of progress in reading, but charter-school students ended up 43 “learning days” behind their virtual twins in math. Four years later, the picture was worse for charter schools: They remained about 43 days behind in math, and were 14 days behind in reading.


The poor performance is no mystery; it’s the result of a law that is indifferent to quality and encourages abuse.


Some flaws in the law may be honest mistakes. For example, many thought in 1997 that allowing a broad array of sponsors would allow the greatest amount of competition and thus the best choices. But it turns out that many of Ohio’s 67 authorizers lack either the expertise or the good faith to competently oversee schools.


In other areas, though, Ohio charter law is designed to favor for-profit school-operating companies over the interests of students. No mystery there, either; for-profit education companies are major campaign contributors.


One of the worst provisions allows sponsor/authorizers, the supposed watchdogs over charter schools, to sell services to those schools, thereby creating a strong incentive for them to keep a bad school open. Another, which strips charter-school boards of the power to fire unsatisfactory school operators, was called by one national policy analyst “the most breathtaking abuse in the nation.”


In my view, the Legislature should start by banning for-profit management of charters. Get the greed out of operating a school. Educators should be fairly compensated for their work, but no one should go to the bank with millions of dollars that are then used for campaign contributions to protect their fiefdom.



Here is the video in which Margaret Raymond of CREDO explains to the Cleveland City Club how charters are doing in Ohio. At the 50-minute mark, she explains why the market model doesn’t work for public schools.

Read the key quote here.

Stephen Dyer, policy analyst in Ohio, went to the Cleveland Club to hear Macke Raymond explain her Ohio charter study.

He came expecting her
to address the obvious issues:

“How only in Cleveland does it appear that Ohio’s charter school sector is providing meaningful, positive benefits to kids. Or how CREDO’s methodology works (averaging kids in traditional public school buildings and comparing these “virtual” kids’ performance with real charter kids). Or how Ohio’s charter school sector has been making very minimal improvements over the years. Or that the state’s charter reform initiatives over the last few years haven’t had much impact on charter school performance. Or that Cleveland charters are doing a good job educating poor, minority kids. Or that 93% of Ohio charter schools’ proficiency scores are below the 50th percentile in the state. Or that 44% of charter school kids are seeing low growth and performance.”

But towards the end of her talk, she dropped a bombshell when she said that education “is the only industry/sector where the market mechanism just doesn’t work….”

Dyer wrote:

“Considering that the pro-market reform Thomas B. Fordham Foundation paid for this study and Raymond works at the Hoover Institution at Stanford — a free market bastion, I was frankly floored, as were most of the folks at my table.

“For years, we’ve been told that the free market will help education improve. As long as parents can choose to send their kids to different schools, like cars or any other commodity, the best schools will draw kids and the worst will go away. The experience in Ohio is the opposite. The worst charter schools in Ohio are growing by leaps and bounds, while the small number of successful charter schools in Ohio have stayed, well, a small number of successful charter schools.

“Raymond made the point too that parents are not informed enough to be true market consumers on education. Websites like Know Your Charter can help with that educational aspect of the parental choice, better arming parents with the necessary information to make a more informed decision. But to hear free market believers say that 20 years into the charter school experiment its foundational philosophy — that the free market’s invisible hand will drive educational improvement — is not working? Well, I was stunned to hear that.

“Raymond also made the point that the states that are seeing the best charter school performance are states whose charter school authorizers are focused on quality and have robust accountability measures — in other words, well-regulated. Yesterday, when the CREDO report was released, it was discovered that if online and for-profit charter schools are taken out of the equation, Ohio charters don’t perform all that bad. Problem is that more than 57% of Ohio charter school kids are in those schools. In fact, at Know Your Charter, we found that less than 10% of Ohio’s charter school kids are in schools that score above the state average on the Performance Index Score or have an A or B in overall value added.

“The point is that there are a few very high-performing charters in this state, like the Breakthrough Schools in Cleveland, or the Toledo School of the Arts, or Columbus Preparatory Academy. While these schools represent a smattering of Ohio’s 400 plus charter schools, the state’s failing charter schools are legion.”

Jan Rsseger here reviews the CREDO report on charters in Ohio. Jan lives inn Cleveland and has watched ruefully as civic leaders have anandoned the public schools.

She writes:

“Charter schools in Ohio are notorious because the state legislature, filled with money from supporters of some of the worst charters, has chosen hardly to regulate the charter school sector at all. On Tuesday, the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released a new study of the academic effectiveness of Ohio’s charters (as measured by standardized test scores).

The report is scathing: “First, recent efforts across Ohio to improve the quality of charter school performance are only dimly discernible in the analysis. Overall performance trends are marginally positive, but the gains that Ohio charter school students receive even in the most recent periods studied still lag the progress of their traditional public school peers… Despite exemplars of strong results, over 40 percent of Ohio charter schools are in urgent need of improvement: they both post smaller student academic gains each year and their overall achievement levels are below the average for the state. If their current performance is permitted to continue, the students enrolled in these schools will fall even further behind over time.”

“Compared to the educational gains that charter students would have had in a traditional public school, the analysis shows on average that the students in Ohio charter schools perform worse in both reading and mathematics.”

Market-based “reform” doesn’t work in education.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank that authorizes charters in Ohio, sponsored an evaluation of charters in that state by CREDO of Stanford. CREDO is led by Margaret (Macke) Raymond and has completed many charter evaluations. Critics gripe that CREDO is funded by the charter-loving Walton Family Foundation and that Raymond is the wife of conservative economist Eric Hanushek, but it has nonetheless gained a reputation for balance and nonpartisan judgment.

Stephen Dyer here reviews the findings of the latest CREDO study of Ohio charters. There are good charters and bad charters, but on the whole, the findings are negative for students in charters. Over 40% of charters are doing very poorly. The students in these schools fall farther behind every year.

“Overall, kids in charters lose 36 days of math and 14 days of reading to their traditional public school counterparts. Of the 68 statistically significant differences CREDO found between charters and public schools, 56 showed a negative charter school impact, and 12 showed a positive one.”

Dyer points out that the state spends more than $900 million a year for these disappointing results. This money is taken away from community public schools.


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