Matt DiCarlo at the Shanker Blog pretty well demonstrated that this policy change to put Charters in the same districts plus the bottom 5% on Performance Index would be based not on school performance, but on poverty because proficiency tests (which is what the Performance Index is measuring) is so irrevocably tied to income.
So when one looks at the most recent Ohio Report Card data and sees that only about 1 out of 4 Charter Schools would rate better than the bottom 5% of School Districts on the Performance Index score, is opening more Charter Schools in these districts really a solution?
Especially when these schools, on average, outperform Charter Schools on 2 out of every 3 proficiency test subjects. Or graduate kids at more than twice the rate of Charter Schools, on average. Or have higher attendance rates. Or score higher on the Performance Index Score. And they do it with just about the same percentage of kids who are economically disadvantaged (79.1% for Charters, 78.7% for publics).
Opening up 5% of the state's schools to Charters would be an incredible opportunity for Charter Schools to expand even faster than they have already, growing from a $50 million a year program in 2000 to the $771 million program it was last school year.
Note: While there are 613 school districts in Ohio, only 610 were released in yesterday's report card data dump. So I assume the bottom 30 of the 610 will be included. However, it could include a couple more districts if the state includes the other three that weren't included in yesterday's data release. I wanted to be as conservative as possible with the calculation and include districts certain to be facing this policy change, which is why I went with the bottom 30 rather than the bottom 31 or 32.
So while there are barely 25% of Charter Schools that would rate higher than the bottom 5% of public schools on the Performance Index Score, those public schools will now lose kids and precious dollars to schools that actually score worse than they do.
Kids in the Big 8 lose about 12% of their state revenue to the Charter School funding system in this state. So it's logical to think a similar average loss would be hitting the new areas Charters are now allowed to occupy.
Here is the list of districts, according to the state's new report card data.
|Warrensville Heights City|
|East Cleveland City School District|
|Youngstown City Schools|
|Jefferson Township Local|
|Columbus City School District|
|Maple Heights City|
|Garfield Heights City Schools|
|Painesville City Local|
|Richmond Heights Local|
|Upper Scioto Valley Local|
|Mt Healthy City|
|Cleveland Heights-University Heights City|
What do all these districts have in common?
They occupy the 10 highest poverty rates in the state, 15 of the top 20 and more than half of the top 40. In other words, DiCarlo was right: This new state policy on Charter School locations is directed primarily at the state's poorest districts.
So rather than pay for universal pre-school, smaller classes or beefed up tutoring -- things we know work, the state decides instead to allow schools to open, only one in four of which would rate above the lowest 5% of the state's public schools.
Here's a question: Why would the state do something that doesn't work when they have the money (about $500 million) to do something that does?