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.