Here’s a twist. The city of Cleveland wants to upgrade the quality of its charter schools by blocking a very poorly regarded charter authorized but the Ohio State Superintendent turned Cleveland down.

Bottom line: it is easy to close a public school, but very difficult to close down a low performing charter or authorizer.

“The first real test of whether city leaders can force higher standards for charter schools in the city – a power they fought for in the state legislature five years ago – has failed.

“Though Cleveland has some of the strongest charter schools in Ohio, it also has some of the weakest. So Mayor Frank Jackson and other city leaders have wanted to force some of the weakest operators and oversight organizations for the privately-run, tax-funded public schools to do a better job.

“Making that happen has been a challenge.

“Jackson won limited power from Gov. John Kasich and the legislature in 2012 to let his school quality panel, the Transformation Alliance, recommend to the state who can create and oversee new charter schools in the city.

“That hard fought power was much less than what Jackson had initially sought – an ability for city leaders to approve or deny each new school directly.

“But when the panel tried to use that already-reduced power this year for the first time – asking the state to block controversial charter sponsor St. Aloysius Orphanage from starting new schools here – the Ohio Department of Education did not agree.

“Piet van Lier, executive director of the Alliance, shared this week a recent letter from State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria affirming that he will not grant the Alliance’s request and will let St. Aloysius add new schools here.

“DeMaria is instead forcing St. Aloysius to better communicate with the city over its educational goals.

“We are very disappointed by ODE’s decision,” van Lier said.”We reviewed St. Aloysius’s application thoroughly and found no evidence that the sponsor is focused on providing a quality education for all Cleveland children.”

“Dave Cash, head of Charter School Specialists, the for-profit company that oversees schools for the orphanage, did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment this week.”

Mr. Cash is the appropriately named head of The for-profit company that runs the low-performing authorized.

“Members of the Alliance – Cleveland school district, union, charter school, higher education, business and philanthropic leaders – believe that the Cincinnati orphanage, which now oversees 12 charter schools in Cleveland, creates mediocre or poor schools across the state, just to offer school choices for the sake of choice, not quality.

“Alliance members also question whether the orphanage and the for-profit company that creates schools for it are mainly trying to make money.”

The authorizer gets a cut of the funding no matter how poorly the school performs.