Doug Livingston’s piece on charter schools in Friday’s Beacon Journal blew another hole into Ohio’s billion-dollar cash cow. There have been frequent reports about how this system of privately operated charter schools is failing in its academic mission at taxpayers’ and public education’s expense. But now, as Livingston wrote, David Yost, the Republican state auditor, has just issued his investigative report that much money is being spent on kids who are represented in charter classrooms by empty seats.

And once again the river of money has been channeled into the accounts where it will do the most good for the supportive lawmakers, particularly by White Hat Management, the outfit identified by the wide-brimmed crown worn by its founder, Akron businessman David Brennan. More later.

“In a school in Youngstown they found zero students, though the school had received enough state aid to educate 152,” Livingston wrote. “Dropout recovery schools operated by Akron -based White Hat Management are among the worst.”

Yost, who had called for the investigation, said he was shocked that “50 pct attendance seems to be the average.”

The auditor’s special team of investigators found that although the 30 charter schools¬†visited were to receive $54,592,383 to educate 6,985 students, only 5,524 were at their desks, meaning more than $12 million went into somebody’s pockets with no students to show for it, Livingston reported.

Among those who attended Yost’s news conference revealing the findings was State Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Kettering Republican and chair of the Senate¬†Education Committee.

She conceded it was obvious that Yost had highlighted “some issues that need to be addressed, ” and promised that the information would be sent to the Senate and House to “‘determine the next steps forward.” To which we would add: Lotsa luck. There has been plenty of evidence over the years that something wasn’t working in the charter system that was costing taxpayers so much money.

What was working for White Hat et al went to the Republican bear who had a wide reputation as the caretaker of the lawmakers. Brennan is one of the GOP’s heaviest hitters in the state and those pols who ignore his clout do so at their own risk. A donor with an ego as wide as the distance from Cleveland to Cincinnati, Brennan didn’t mind reminding people of that.

So pardon me for snickering when I read in the Plain Dealer that Gov. Kasich is supporting strong regulations on charters to clean up their act. As he indignantly put it: ¬†“We will not tolerate people coming into this state, making money at the expense of great education for our kids. And the legislature’s going to have to help us on this.”

For Heaven’s sake, governor? Only “out of state” people?

Out of state?


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