Editorial From The Canton RepositoryOhio Gov. John Kasich and both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly finally appear ready to reform Ohio’s charter schools, some of which aren’t performing up to our educational standards because they lack transparency and accountability. House Bill 2, which is making its way through the Ohio House, cracks down on charter school sponsors and governing boards and allows the Ohio Department of Education to step in when schools fail to meet educational standards.
While it addresses many of the problems with Ohio’s charter school system, it does not go far enough. The bill still allows charter schools to hide their use of taxpayer dollars behind the management companies that run them.
The bill was sponsored by Republican state Reps. Kristina Roegner and Mike Dovilla. It would do the following:
• Require school districts that create dropout recovery charter schools for under-performing students to include those students in annual report cards, rather than offload them to charter schools to boost district grades.
• Require the Ohio Department of Education to sign off when any charter school that receives a D or an F on its performance index and value-added academic progress scores wants to switch sponsors (known as sponsor hopping). Sponsors act to make sure the schools are running properly.
• Calls for more detailed performance expectations in the contracts between schools and their sponsors.
• Forces charter school governing board members to disclose conflicts of interest, either personal or business related, that they have with school operations.
• Prohibits school employees, and the vendors that supply the schools with goods, to sit on the charter school board.
• Only allows the governing board, and no longer sponsors, to hire school treasurers.
The bill also requires disclosure of how sponsors spend their sponsor fees — a positive — but we agree with the Fordham Institute’s Chad Aldis, who said during testimony last week that the bill should prohibit sponsors from spending those fees on anything other than oversight and technical support.
If the state truly wants to crack down on these schools, House Bill 2 and other proposed reforms need to be stronger.