Today the Columbus Dispatch reported that nearly 30% of Ohio’s charter schools have closed or been shut down since Ohio started its charter school experiment in 1997.

The City of Columbus saw a record-breaking 17 charter schools shut down last year for financial mismanagement as well as “health and safety problems — students weren’t getting nutritious lunches, or the buildings were unsanitary.”

Last week we also read two eye-opening letters from former charter school teachers that shine some much-needed light on K12 virtual charter schools and on a chain of charter schools run by a religious group out of Turkey.

The first piece, titled 15 Months in Charter School Hell, tells a horror story about the large virtual charter school company K12, and how it puts profits above everything else.

According to the author, K12 – which operates the Ohio Virtual Academy here in our state – makes recruiting new students their highest priority.   And they specifically target enrollment by “at-risk” kids who, in theory, ask fewer questions and have lower expectations of their educational experience.  This allows K12 to burden teachers with more classes and more kids, with part-time teachers expected to teach up to 30 classes and 225 students at a time, and full time teachers taking on over 300 students at once!

The other piece, titled How charter schools betray their students and communities, describes the teaching experience at one of Ohio’s 16 Horizon Science Academies, charter schools operated by adherents to the Gülen Movement, a religious group founded by the Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.    The experience was not good.

Low pay and long hours for teachers, bribing kids with candy and free meals to show up during “count week”, mold-filled classrooms, no curriculum, management changing grades and test scores, and large men removing low-performing students during testing weeks .   These schools are the worst of the worst.

This is the reality about Ohio’s disastrous charter school system, revealed by those who spent time on the inside.

Our kids deserve better.