Stephen Dyer said that the for-profit charter school in Cleveland where Donald Trump spoke is a failing school, based on its letter grades. The conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which is an official authorizer of charters in Ohio (though not this one), said that Dyer was wrong. As you may know, the A-F report card idea was invented by Jeb Bush in Florida and has spread to accountability-obsessed states like Ohio. It tends to be an accurate measure of family income. Dyer points out that Fordham was gung-ho to adopt the A-F grades, but doesn’t like them so much now. Ron Packard, the owner of the charter in Cleveland, was previously CEO at the online charter corporation K12, where he was paid $5 million annually. His background is McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. K12 Inc. gets bad reviews for its terrible education record, even from charter advocates.

Dyer responds here:

As you know, Donald Trump came to Cleveland to visit a charter school and announce a massive federal infusion of dollars for school choice programs. Regardless of the wisdom of that plan, I found it curious that he would visit a school with an F grade from the state on student growth — considered the most important metric by many charter school advocates. So I called the grade “failing” in several news accounts.

The Fordham Insitute took me to task for that today. So I felt I needed to respond bceause I actually agree that school performance needs more nuanced measures than the simple test regime we have today. But I found it amazing that Fordham, which pushed for Ohio to go to an A-F report card system because it would give parenhts more transparency about how their schools performed so they could then choose whether a charter would be a better option, is now saying that the F grade at the Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy doesn’t actually mean it’s failing. Especially given that Fordham said the drop in grades this year (due to PARCC and Common Core) gave Ohioans a more accurate assessment of how kids are “actually doing.”

Here’s my response:

Best Regards,

Stephen Dyer
Education Policy Fellow
Innovation Ohio
35 E. Gay St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215