Charter school expansion is racing forward without evidence to warrant such growth. The state report card on charter schools would suggest a moratorium on expansion.


56 new charter schools have been receiving funds deducted from school districts this summer in anticipation of opening this school year. Nineteen of the new ones are sponsored by four ESCs, fifteen of which are by one of the ESCs. Two city districts are each sponsoring a new one. Hence, of the 56 new charters, 21 are sponsored by elected boards of education. Three are e-schools connected to for-profit companies.

In the past, some proposed charter schools have received funding during the summer months but have failed to open. There appears to be no way to retrieve the funds paid to a charter school that does not open. It will be of interest to learn if any of these 56 new charter schools fail to open.

Including the new charters, 409 charter schools will be operating in FY 2014. Of those, about 175 are sponsored by district boards of education. A disproportionate number of charter school students, however, are served by entities not sponsored by elected boards of education.

A total of $825 million was extracted from school districts for charter school operations in FY 2013. Based on past trends, about a billion dollars will be drained from the 613 school districts for charter students each year of this biennium. Most of the charter school funds will be used by for-profit charter operations. A small percentage will be used by charters sponsored by boards of education.

Regarding the new A-F State Report Card, assuming it really measures the value provided by "schooling" (which it doesn't necessarily do), a comparison of traditional school districts with charters is revealed. Without getting into the weeds, even though the lowest performing 25% of charter schools were excluded from the data set, traditional school districts, on average, outpaced charter schools dramatically.

A bit of history regarding the concept of chartering private school ventures is useful. During the first 20 years of statehood, the Ohio legislature granted charters to private organizations that organized to offer some kind of education. That means of providing education was out of sync with the state's 1802 constitutional requirements, "that schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged by legislative provisions..." and the prohibition of laws which would prevent the poor "from an equal participation in schools, academies...", and the set aside of the sixteenth section of each township for the support of public schools.

The school laws of 1821 and 1825 initiated the Ohio public common school movement which became constitutionally mandated in 1851. Some of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1912 wanted to exempt the cities from the state common school system by the granting them a charter for school purposes. This concept was overshadowed by a provision which strengthened state responsibility for public education and thus strengthened the public common school concept. (Article VI section 3 of the Ohio Constitution).

State policy which grants charters to private education providers and vouchers for private school education is akin to the failed school policies of the early 1800s. To learn from history one must be aware of history. State officials should step back and put a moratorium on the expansion of tax support of non-common school entities, at least until they review the history of education in Ohio.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A
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