Over the years I’ve written more than a few posts here at Plunderbund bitching and moaning about the horrible job Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature has done implementing our charter school system.
There are, of course, a few successful schools. But these minor successes are easily overshadowed by the many horrible and disastrous failures directly resulting from the intentionally limited oversight and amazingly loose restrictions imposed on schools that never had any chance of being successful in the first place. It seems anyone can get public money to start a school and there is little or no requirement to define or track how that money will be/was spent. The results have been dreadful to say the least.
For-profit charter school operators like David Brennan (who owns White Hat Management) have been given the opportunity take millions in state funds while providing nothing to the state in return. Brennan and his ilk have started charter schools, enrolled students and siphoned off millions of dollars from local school districts. And in return they let their schools slowly fail and eventually collapse. Students, teachers and parents are left looking for new schools, new jobs and answers.
The problem has always been that Brennan and his pals are HUGE contributors to the GOP so Republican legislators pass laws to favor their for-profit charter school pals and they have no desire to change the system and risk losing their for-profit charter school cash cow.
Any serious proponent of education reform would have kicked Brennan to the curb years ago and pursued a more honest, fair and less profit-driven charter school system that provides greater oversight of expenditures and higher performance standards for schools.
Governor Strickand made some very bold but ultimately ineffective moves toward reforming Ohio’s disastrous charter school experiment by attempting to remove the for-profit operators from the system. While Ken Blackwell, Strickland’s opponent in the last election, was a huge beneficiary of for-profit charter school campaign contributions and, not surprisingly, promised to expand the horribly performing system under which we are currently suffering.
I bring up Ken Blackwell and the last election only to introduce the unlikely hero of a confusing but very entertaining story I read in today’s Dayton Daily news.
It’s no surprise that the story was written by Julie Carr Smyth. Whenever I read a great Ohio political story it almost always came from Smyth.
The big surprise here is that the ‘hero’ of the story is former Ken Blackwell spokesman and LetOhioVote.com founder Carlo Loparo. As unlikely as it seems, in this story Loparo actually takes the correct side of this issue, finding himself fighting against White Hat owner David Brennan.
I don’t claim to know Loparo’s motivations for taking on this role or any of the secret deals that led to this apparent change of heart but in this new, crazy, mixed-up, bizzaro world of charter school litigation Loparo appears to be taking the side of the teachers and students while Brennan continues to be the bad guy…
Through the current management agreements, White Hat has control of 96 percent or more of the public money received to run the schools and has the power to terminate teachers, administrators and board members.
The schools charge that they have been given scant accounting information to assess how the public money for their facilities is being spent, making it difficult for them to assess their financial positions as they renegotiate their contracts.
They also accuse White Hat of improperly spending, commingling or pooling state grant money, failing to file required quarterly reports, and providing property inventories that don’t identify which property is owned by White Hat and which is owned by the schools.
The schools further accuse White Hat of failing to promote the academic success of students and of using public money to purchase management-owned property that is being kept in Florida.
The only thing that could possibly make this story better is if Bill Todd got involved. Todd and Loparo tend to travel in the same circles and I’d love to see them go head-to-head in this fight.
Todd’s failed Columbus mayoral campaign received nearly a quarter of its funding from David Brennan and Todd has defended Brennan on multiple occasions. Bill Todd always ends up on the wrong side of most issues. He’s the go-to guy when Republicans with an obviously shady agenda need legal representation and he would be the perfect opponent for Loparo in this fight.
Bring on the Republican-on-Republican legal battles!