OH charters outperform public schools? Are cost neutral? Benefit students? No, no and no


by Félix Pérez

OH Gov. John Kasich cut more than $500 million from public schools while increasing funding for failing charter schools, all while proclaiming the budgetary shift as a means to increased “parental choice” that would not cost taxpayers an extra dime.

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A new report, based on Ohio Department of Education 2012-13 data, concludes that Kasich is wrong on both counts.

According to Innovation Ohio’s “Short-Changed: How Poor-Performing Charters Cost All Ohio Kids”:

The manner in which Ohio funds charter schools significantly reduces the money available to the 1.6 million children who stay in traditional public schools. Moreover, in the vast majority of cases, money is being transferred from better performing traditional school districts to worse performing charter schools. This holds true even in many urban school districts where performance scores have traditionally lagged.

The report found that the “flawed” way in which Ohio charter schools are funded has resulted, on average, in nearly 7% less funding for traditional public school students than the Department of Education says they need. Additionally, charters spend nearly double the amount spent by traditional public schools on non-instructional administrative costs (24% vs. 13%). And more than half of the state money for charter schools goes to schools that perform worse than traditional public schools.

Said Innovation Ohio President Janetta King:

Legislators and other state officials must stop using “school choice” as a mindlessly repeated mantra divorced from real world consequences. All public schools and administrators should be held to the same level of accountability, regardless of whether their buildings are called ‘charter’ or ‘traditional.’ And students who choose to say in traditional public schools should not suffer inadequate funding simply because others made a different choice.

Finally — and especially because the majority of students transferring into charter schools are leaving districts that actually perform better – it is vital that parents be provided with accurate and up-to-date information concerning comparative academic performance.

Charter funding critics point out that while the funding that goes to a charter school is based on the amount it costs to educate a student in a traditional public school, charter schools don’t have to worry about busing. They also pay their teachers less.

Approximately 95,000 of Ohio’s 1.8 million students were enrolled in 326 charter schools in the 2010-11 school year.

Reader Comments

  1. It’s so obvious that people in general do not have enough knowledge to make infored decisions about our schools, both public, private, and “hybrid”. However, it is not their fault! The fault lies with our educational leaders who, in my estimation, are more interested in “sound bites” rather than sound policy”!!! In this day and age, when there is so much information on organizational management styles and which styles are most effective, how could our leaders, both political and educational be so uninformed as to choose a completely “top-down” system to try to manage our public schools? Rather than taking into consideration the tremendous experience and educational backgrounds of most teachers our “so-called leaders” procalim superior knowledge and require our teachers to do things and follow policies and practices they (teachers) know won’t work!!! Do these leaders realize what they are doing to teacher moral and to the quality (lack thereof) of our schools!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Not one cent of public money should go to any for profit school. Nationally, charter schools underperform public schools by a small %, and they get to pick and choose their students. With that going for them they should be outperforming the public schools by a huge amount, the way Catholic schools do. It just shows that public schools are better run than charter schools.

  3. Ohio teachers & our education association have been advocating for fair & equitable funding for almost 25 years, ever since the early 1990s when new high school student tests were mandated, and the DeRolph cases were won on 4 occasions. The state legislature and Board of Education hold the keys, seemingly ignoring the strong advice from their public teachers and education supporters.

    The voters choose other reasons to elect officials (fiscal conservancy, religious views, claims to increase jobs, etc) than public goods like funding emergency services, city services, justice system, roads, and education. All of these create jobs, promote home ownership, churn the economy, and further advance each community as a good place to live, work, play.

  4. So, why aren’t the legislators and union bigwigs doing something about this? ALL schools, private, parochial, on-line and charter should fall under the same mandates as the public schools.
    If parents pull children from schools that are performing better than the school they are going into, they (the parents) should lose voucher money.
    I pay my taxes to support PUBLIC EDUCATION. I am not paying for someone to take their child to private, parochial, on-line or charter schools!

    1. “So, why aren’t the legislators and union bigwigs doing something about this?”
      Miriam, because the republicans that have the majority in both the Ohio house and the Ohio Senate as well as our governor seat are rewarding their rich friends who start charter schools with our tax money in exchange for campaign donations and non one else currently has enough power to stop them. Since this state is too gerrymandered to unseat enough of these people, we desperately need to get Kasich out of office, or the problem will get MUCH worse.

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