The Dispatch ran a well written and quite thorough opinion piece on Saturday that really sums up the situation with Ohio’s screwed up charter schools.

The piece was written by Thomas M. Stephens who is professor emeritus at OSU and the author of many books on schools, teaching and education.

Stephens points out that charter schools are promoted as a ‘panaceas for intractable education and social problems’ but the way the system is set up in Ohio pretty much guarantees their failure and leads ‘to questionable promises and practices.’

Last year Ohio’s 310 charter schools recieved $532 MILLION in state funds. And what did we get for all that money?

  • 57 percent of charters were in academic watch or academic emergency.
  • 38 percent of charters in urban areas that enroll at-risk students are in academic emergency – compared to only 19 percent of public schools in those same areas.

The reason?

Charter schools lack “seasoned teachers, experienced leaders, comprehensive offerings and good physical facilities.”

They also lack oversite from the state.

Initial evidence seems to show that charter schools are not providing quality educational options and are not any better- and sometimes worse – than public schools. But fear not. The good professor has a solution…

First, place a moratorium on charter schools until a research-based system is in place. Then create an oversight body free of politics, with teeth, which has specific standards based on empirical evidence. Provide on-site inspections through the Ohio Department of Education under the direction of the independent group. Require schools that are out of compliance to make corrections before funding is resumed. And don’t lift the moratorium until evidence shows that the existing ones are at least as good as traditional programs.

Hmm… that sounds a lot like Governor Strickland’s plan. The same plan that was rejected by Ohio’s Republican-led (and for-profit charter school funded) legislators.

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