In the interest of discussing what is “thorough and efficient” about Ohio’s charter schools, concerned community members are invited to join Ohio Senate Minority Leader, Senator Joe Schiavoni and other expert panelists at Central Ohio’s first Community Forum on Charter School Accountability (May 7th, 6 – 7:30 p.m., at the Upper Arlington Public Library, 2800 Tremont Rd., Cols, Ohio 43221).

Joining Senator Schiavoni are Southwestern City Schools Treasurer, Hugh Garside and School Board member, Lee Schreiner.  Southwestern City Schools has lost 108 million dollars to charter schools since the year 2000. Also on the panel are the former Head of Ohio Virtual Academy, Jeff Shaw and the former Director of Charter Oversight at the Ohio Department of Education, Denis Smith. Former charter school teacher, Britt Mickley  will share her story of special needs students being neglected by her administrators and how she “blew the whistle,” and had the charter school shut down.  Steve Dyer, Education Policy expert at Innovation Ohio will round out the panel with his in-depth research on charter school financial accountability and academic performance

“Ohio’s Charter Schools; Where Are Our Tax Dollars Going?” is sponsored by Central Ohio Friends of Public Education, a regional branch of Ohio Friends of Public Education, the statewide advocacy group for public education.  COFPE is a “citizen-driven, non-partisan movement to inform and engage Central Ohioans, at the community level, to support and strengthen public schools.”

“Thorough” and “efficient” as they relate to Ohio’s schools are two words making front-page news across the state these days.

Just how “thorough and efficient” is the Charter School industry in Ohio today?

1) Are Ohio’s Charter Schools’ and their CEOs “thorough” and “efficient” in investing billions of our tax dollars into building strong schools, staffed with expert, professionally certified educators who help our children become successful students that graduate from high school ready to build a solid career path?

2) Are Ohio’s Charter Schools “thorough” and “efficient” in providing accountability and transparency to taxpayers so that the public knows what percentage of our taxes are providing vital resources to students and educators and what percentage of our tax dollars are funding CEO salaries, student recruitment and advertising costs?

3) Are Ohio’s Charter Schools “thorough” and “efficient” in educating and supporting children of all ability levels, keeping all students enrolled, from the beginning to the end of the school year, year after year, until students graduate from high school?

The answer is NO, NO and NO to all of the above.

1) A graduation rate of 30 – 40 % for Ohio’s Charters, which is less than ½ of our Public School graduation rate of 81.5% is not a “thorough” and “efficient” use of our taxpayer dollars.  87 % of Charter School students attending a school that is rated a D or F is not a  “thorough” and “efficient” use of billions of taxpayer dollars.

2) Multi-million dollar salaries to for-profit charter school CEOs, who increase class sizes and plug students in on-line to reduce brick and mortar fees, use millions of our tax dollars each year to advertise and recruit students, and hire non-certified teachers is not a “thorough” and “efficient” use of taxpayer dollars.

3) When record numbers of Ohio’s charter schools are closing their doors mid-year and thousands of students “ping-pong” back and forth from their neighborhood public school to a charter school and back to their public school, hard-earned taxpayer dollars are pocketed by charter CEOs. Losing millions of dollars a year to shuttered charter school operators is not a “thorough” and “efficient” use of taxpayer dollars.

In fact, the only thing “thorough” and “efficient” about Ohio’s charter schools has been their ability to dictate legislative policy that turns billions of our public tax dollars into private funding for corporate run schools that are exempt from 150 state laws public schools must adhere to.

We are parents, grandparents, business owners, educators, principals, superintendents, school board members, doctors, stay-at-home moms and dads, city council members and concerned community members joining together for our children today.

We believe that educating our children to become the best students and human beings possible, to be happy, inspired, and motivated in life should not be political. It is the fundamental charge we have as adults in a democratic society, to help our children build successful, secure futures while fully enjoying their childhood. Profiteering off of our children turns their education into a political minefield where kids are the victims. It is as simple, and as tragic, as that.

In the words of John F. Kennedy:  “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.  Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

Please join Central Ohio Friends of Public Education’s Community Forum on “Ohio’s Charters, Where Are Our Tax Dollars Going?” on May 7th.

We believe it is time to stand up together, as a community; for our children, their futures and the future of public education in the state of Ohio today.

Maureen Reedy
Founder; Ohio Friends of Public Education