Another post by the tireless public school advocate Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy:

Unconscionable, far-reaching consequences intrinsic in the White Hat Management company’s claims of private ownership of school assets purchased by public funds

A lot of public school personnel in Ohio at this time are embroiled with the question of, “To have or not to have Common Core.” As important as this discussion is, it pales relative to the White Hat Management claims before the Ohio Supreme Court (oral arguments will be heard September 23). The Court is being asked to decide the question of ownership of charter school assets that are purchased with taxpayer money. This is a matter that should rankle all taxpayers, particularly those who are public education advocates.

White Hat Management company claims ownership. On the other side, ten or more of White Hat’s own school boards claim ownership. Six organizations, including the charter school advocacy group, Ohio Coalition for Quality Education, have filed amicus briefs in support of White Hat’s claims. Conspicuously absent from the fray are statewide public education associations and local public school groups. Ohio School Boards Association filed the only amicus brief against the White Hat Management claims.

When the $11 million charter school pilot project was enacted, a long time public education professional was scorned, even by associates, for saying that one day this pilot project will turn into a billion dollar per year fiasco. At this juncture, it can be predicted that a ruling in favor of White Hat Management will hasten the demise of the public common school system.

A ruling in favor of the White Hat Management claims could have eventual consequences such as:

Private companies operating public services, such as corrections, might seek and acquire ownership of existing public facilities via cozy campaign contribution-related relationships between company and state officials.

Aggressive private companies might “elect” company-friendly school district board members who in turn could transfer ownership of public facilities and equipment to private operators as one of the terms in the contract.

Transparency and accountability in the use of tax money might disappear completely. Taxation without representation is already a fact in charterland and a decision in favor of White Hat Management would worsen the situation.

The privatization of education movement would be energized by a decision in favor of White Hat Management.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

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