Stephen Dyer, former legislator, now affiliated as an education policy fellow with Ohio Innovation, has been a close observer of charter schools in his home state. When he writes, he relies on nonpartisan data. This is the first in a series about the disappointing results of charter schools in Ohio.


This first post finds that taxpayers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars (that is, taking it away from public schools) to subsidize charter schools that perform the same or worse than the regular public schools.


Here is what the data show:

Out of the $774 million that were transferred from districts to charters with state report card grades , 56% – or more than $430 million – went to charter schools that performed worse overall than the district that transferred the money. If you include districts that performed the same, nearly 2 out of every 3 dollars went to charter schools from a district that performed the same or better, at a cost of $504 million.

Local taxpayers had to subsidize $180.3 million to cover the money transferred to the same or worse performing charter schools.

Districts were more likely to lose money to charters that underperformed on all 8 report card categories and not a single transfer occurred where the charter outperformed the district on all 8 report card grades.

When districts and charters were both graded in every category, 97% of the time districts outperformed the charters. Just 1.8% of the time did a charter outperform districts in the majority of the categories.

There were 461 school districts – accounting for more than ¾ of all of Ohio school districts – where all the kids attending charter schools were transferred to equal or poorer performing charter schools. That adds up to 19,042 kids and $136.6 million.



Meanwhile, every district lost at least some funding to poorer performers, with only 17 districts losing less than half their children to poorer performing charters.
In 84 of 88 counties, more than half of children attended poorer performing charters, and in 43 of Ohio’s 88 counties, all the children going to charters attend charters that perform the same or worse than local school districts.