As we work our way through the revised budget bill that came out last night one thing is painfully obvious: Kasich and Ohio’s GOP are trying to privatize Ohio’s education system at the expense of teachers, students and, ultimately, all Ohioans. Period.
And the only plausible reason I can see for the GOP’s privatization effort is pure ideological hatred of the public education system and its teachers and/or a straight up pay back to their campaign donors.
We will delve into the details of the budget in a series of upcoming posts, but for now take my word that this budget removes nearly all restrictions on for-profit charter schools and the companies that manage them in Ohio. It removes important rights from anyone who works at a charter school. It eliminates financial oversight and transparency from for-profit charters. It eliminates the need for charters to have an in-state sponsor for their schools in Ohio. And it lets schools just start up as for-profit companies that will receive millions in state funding without any obligation to actually educate their students.
Ohio’s charter school system has been, and continues to be, a complete failure for two main reasons that we’ve covered many times before. First, Charter schools cost the state 250% MORE TO OPERATE than public schools. And second, Charter school perform WAY worse than public schools. As Innovation Ohio points out: “only 21 percent of charter schools rate effective or better … Meanwhile … 72 percent of traditional school buildings and 88 percent of traditional school districts rate effective or better on the state report card.
So you have to ask yourself why, in the middle of a huge budget crisis, would a Governor and GOP-controlled legislature decide to pursue an education agenda that will ultimately end up costing more money to provide a crappier level of education to Ohio’s students?
One of the simplest answers comes from looking as where that extra money is going to go: Charter School Management Companies.
Companies like White Hat Management and it’s owner David Brennan, who operate dozens of poorly performing, financially irresponsible and downright evil charter schools throughout Ohio, will directly profit financially from the budget bill released by the Republicans yesterday.
And the guys who put this budget together absolutely know this. Kasich knows this. House Speaker Batchelder knows this. Senate President Niehaus knows this. And Ron Amstutz, Charman of the Finance Committee, knows this.
Not only do they know it, but I believe THIS WAS THEIR GOAL. To take money away from public schools and to send it to for-profit charter schools.
And here’s why:
David Brennan and his immediate family members gave $431,721 to Ohio Republican politicians in the last election cycle.
And a good deal of that money went directly to the people responsible for this budget:
$46,681 John Kasich, Governor
$83,000 William Batchelder, Speaker of the Ohio House
$52,700 Tom Niehaus, President of the Ohio Senate
$47,500 Ron Amstutz, Charman of the Finance Committee
I have a lot more to talk about on this issue, but let’s consider this our starting point for further discussion:
Large, for-profit charter school operators gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to GOP in Ohio and the GOP returns to the favor by putting out a budget that hurts students, costs the state more money and fills the pockets of their biggest campaign contributor.
(The numbers in this piece came directly from the Ohio Secretary of State’s campaign finance website. This Spreadsheet shows the specific contributions from David Brennan and his immediate family members used in the above calculations)