Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Evidence Ohio Charter Experiment Failing

Piggybacking on the evidence from yesterday's release of a report I authored at Innovation Ohio, which demonstrated again that the vast majority of kids in Ohio charter schools came from better performing traditional public school districts, US News & World Report's rankings of the country's best high schools provides another sobering picture of Ohio's 16-year-old charter school experiment.

Not a single one of Ohio's 97 charter high schools outperformed the state average in reading and math. Meanwhile, 167 of the 735 traditional public high schools did that. So that's an amazing 167-0 score. Not a single charter high school in Ohio rates in the top 115 high schools in the state -- the lowest rank given by U.S. News.

This confirms what Stanford's CREDO study demonstrated last year -- that the average Ohio charter school student loses a full marking period in math and half of one in reading to their traditional public school counterparts. And, CREDO showed Ohio is only one of four states where charter school performance has declined during the last four years, due in large part to the state not being more aggressive in closing the failing schools.

Remember that nearly every district in this state loses children and money to charter schools, including the finest districts in the state. So the argument that one should only compare charter performance with the poorest performing public schools is flawed. You can't take money and children from every district, then demand to be only compared with the most struggling. That's having your cake and eating it too, and it doesn't serve the needs of kids.

Excuses can no longer suffice. Action must be taken.

Ohio's charter schools are in desperate need of reform. There are some that are successfully educating kids. And charters have an important role to play in Ohio's educational landscape. But far, far, far too many are simply collecting taxpayer dollars and making the adults who run them wealthy.

It is incumbent upon the state's leaders and policymakers to wake up and make the changes that must be done. And do it before this $900 million program continues to grow in bloat and failure.

Our kids are counting on us.