This is an important summary of the failure of the charter school movement in Ohio, from the Ohio Coalition for Education and Adequacy:

A “noble” experiment to force the improvement of the public common school: Fifteen years and $7 billion dollars later the charter school gamble has not made the grade.


The Department of Education’s ranking of schools and districts reveals that 83 out of the bottom 84 schools are charter schools. Of course, the head of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools cautions against placing too much importance on the DOE ranking. The reality is that, on the average, charter schools preform less well on the state’s accountability criteria than traditional public schools.

Persons who were involved in public education in the late 1990s will recall the rhetoric from charter school advocates. The charter schools, they said, being free of many state regulations and school district bureaucracies, would advance innovation and creativity which would produce exemplary results. These schools would then inform the traditional public schools on how to improve education programs and services.

Later the charter school rhetoric changed to platitudes about the efficacy of competition, choice and market forces. But none of these threadbare reform notions produced, except in very rare cases, charter school results that outperform traditional public schools. Hence, traditional public schools are drained of much needed funds, and students in charter schools suffer from less favorable educational opportunities.

One of the reasons that the charter school movement has played out this way is that management companies have hijacked this endeavor. Ohio is considered a great “cash cow” environment by the folks who view education as a money making enterprise. No doubt, at this moment in time, there are entrepreneurial groups plotting how to profit from Ohio taxes set aside for public education.

27 management companies operate charter schools in Ohio. Of those 27, 19 are for-profit companies. Of the 19 for-profit companies, half of them are out-of-state corporations; hence, they take a Brink’s truckload of school district money out of Ohio in the form of profits each year.

Charter schools, on the average, have higher pupil-teacher ratios and pay teachers about half as much as traditional public schools. This most likely has a negative impact on the retirement systems.

Many in the public education community believe nothing can be done to stop this non-transparent, non-accountable movement. If the citizens of Ohio had the facts about charter school operations and results, politicians would have to make them more accountable and transparent or they would be voted out of office. It is imperative that the public school community make the facts about charter schools available to school patrons and the general public.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A