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Deregulated Charters in Ohio: As Sad as Those in Pennsylvania

January 13, 2018

Yesterday I posted a story from a CBS affiliate in Pennsylvania reporting that a recent study in that state indicated that after 20 years charter schools were doing worse than public schools on standardized tests, the very metric “reformers” use to determine that public schools are “failing”. Today I look at a recent study in it’s neighboring state, Ohio, which has a charter law with loose regulations and weak oversight. According to the report cards issued by the state of Ohio, urban charters are doing a poor job placing their graduates in college. Blogger Stephen Dyer reports on this finding in a post he made in October that was cross-posted recently by Diane Ravitch:

One of the more interesting — and telling — datasets now available with the state report card is how kids who graduate from Ohio’s schools perform after they graduate. For example, we now know the percentage of graduates who have a college degree within 6 years, as well as how many graduates have enrolled in college within 2 years of graduation.

Looking at these two metrics, it’s remarkable how bad charter school perform. Overall, Ohio school districts have 5 times the rate of students with college degrees that charters have. And Big 8 urban districts (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati. Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown) have twice the rate.

One of the selling points of the reformers is that public schools do a poor job of preparing students for higher education… and they love to cite statistics indicating how many graduates from charters graduate as compared to the public school graduates, many of whom are allegedly unprepared for the rigors of college.

The worst of the worst in Ohio is the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, a virtual school that raked in millions of dollars that would have otherwise been dedicated to public schools:

Only 109 of 3,794 ECOT graduates from 2010 have a college degree today. That’s an amazing 2.9 percent. Cleveland — which had about 100 fewer 2010 graduates as ECOT (not to mention far greater rates of poverty, special education, and minority students) — had about 3.5 times as many graduates with college degrees as ECOT.

Mr. Dyer concludes his post with these paragraphs, which tell a sad story for taxpayers in Ohio who thought they were getting a bargain when they opened the doors to deregulated charter schools:

Ultimately, education is about preparing children for lifelong success, not just test scores. Earning a college degree substantially increases lifetime earnings and decreases the likelihood of citizens needing to access the social safety net, as well as running into trouble.

According to this data from the state report card, Ohio charter schools, overall, hurt their students’ ability to achieve the million dollar promise of a college education and instead contribute to their students’ ability to access the social safety net over their lifetimes.

After $11 billion spent on charters since 1998, is this really the best we can do?

I think the $11,000,000,000 would have provided a better safety net for children in Ohio, could have increased the salaries of staff members in schools and social workers, could have provided more medical services for children raised in poverty, and could have made the arguably superior public schools even better. But the beneficiaries of the spending described above seldom make political donations of the scale of those who operate for profit charter schools…. and never make the salaries of the CEOs of those enterprises. Here’s hoping someone running for Governor in Ohio seizes on this information and makes a case to voters that their public schools are doing fine and could do even better if they had the $11,000,000,000 that went to deregulated charter schools going into their operating budgets.

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