A reader in Ohio shared this unbelievable link.

You may recall that David Hansen was in charge of monitoring charter schools in Ohio. You may recall that his wife, who was John Kasich’s chief of staff, is now running his presidential campaign. You may recall that Hansen was compelled to resign when he was caught manipulating charter school test scores to protect some big Republican donors. Well, Hansen may be gone but his legacy lives on, thanks to the U.S. Department of Education, which ignores scandals if they involve charter schools.

A top Ohio Department of Education official who resigned in July after manipulating data to boost charter schools also participated in a successful effort to obtain $71 million in federal money that could allow the wholesale takeover of urban school districts.

The U.S. Department of Education this week announced that it is providing $249 million to six states and the District of Columbia over the next five years for the expansion of charter schools.

The single-largest grant of $71 million goes to Ohio, which ranks near the bottom nationally for charter-school academic performance and has a history of financial failures. [My emphasis].

Records show that David Hansen, a longtime advocate for charter schools hired by State Supt. Richard Ross to run his school-choice office, was involved in the grant application that will facilitate the takeover of Youngstown city schools and other targeted urban districts.

The takeover of so-called “recovery school districts” such as Youngstown was secretly negotiated by Ross, Kasich’s then chief of staff Beth Hansen and Youngstown business officials and approved by the legislature in June in a stunning last-minute maneuver.
David and Beth Hansen are husband and wife, and she left Kasich’s staff in July to run his presidential campaign.

Records released by the Ohio Department of Education Sept. 3 in response to newspaper investigations of Hansen’s role in the data manipulation also show that he assembled the supporting documents for the federal grant.
In those supporting documents, charter schools, charter-school advocates and members of the U.S. Congress painted a positive picture of Ohio.

This is an astonishing story. The charter school scandals run from the state departments of education, which have been caught playing games with data to bolster politically-connected charters, right to the U.S. Secretary of Education:

In those supporting documents, charter schools, charter-school advocates and members of the U.S. Congress painted a positive picture of Ohio.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in announcing the $71 million this week, cited a Stanford University report suggesting that charter schools nationwide are showing improvement.

He didn’t mention another Stanford report that says Ohio charter schools are among the lowest-performing in the country.

Instead, the federal officials gave the state a perfect score for “High-Quality Authorizing and Monitoring Processes” — or policing of charter schools — although it is the manipulation of that system that resulted in Hansen’s forced resignation.

He resigned two days after the filing deadline for the grant application. Duncan’s office reviewed the application and provided feedback on Sept. 4, months after the Ohio Department of Education rescinded the manipulated evaluations.

Kim Norris, a spokeswoman for ODE, said federal officials were notified of the flawed accountability formula. “They approved the grant with that knowledge,” she said.

The state application also lacked academic data to show whether Ohio’s charter schools, which cost taxpayers more than $1 billion annually, turn tax dollars into student success.

Education Week noted that Ohio’s charter sector was riddled with scandals and had lower performance than public schools:

Among the seven states and the District of Columbia to receive the grant money, Ohio is getting the largest grant. Charter school critics, and even some charter supporters, point to Ohio as an example of the kind of dysfunction that can arise from a lightly regulated charter sector.

The state has come under a lot of scruitiny lately following multiple federal, state, and press-led investigations into corruption among some Ohio schools and their CMOs over the last few years. And a December study by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that Ohio charter school students on average learn less in a year than their district school peers.

So, yes, the U.S. Department of Education knew the Ohio charter data was phony but they gave Ohio $71 million anyway.

Why did ED decide to give the most money to the state with the most dysfunctional charters?