Come Take a Look
One might think a year filled with outrage over the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s fleecing of taxpayers would inspire Ohio lawmakers toward real reform of online charter schools. House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 216, approved and sent to Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday, prove one would be wrong.
SB 216 sets up a committee to study better ways of funding online schools, which is needed. Otherwise, the bills sidestep many of the much-needed changes that were part of a different measure, House Bill 707, before it was folded into the other bills.
Democrats in the General Assembly protested that combining the bills was a way to bury the contents of the reform bill, and they appear to have been right.
Gone is a provision to allow online schools to dis-enroll students who aren’t doing any work.
To be clear, online schools are not clamoring for this authority; continuing to collect state funding for “ghost” students can be a major revenue source. Enabling the schools to remove nonparticipating students (without the truancy process required of traditional schools) would leave no excuse for bloated rolls.
But senators didn’t take even the easiest steps to hold charter schools accountable.
HB 707 would have required for-profit operators of charter schools to be more transparent in how they spend public money, including disclosing their relationships with subcontractors. A sizeable chunk of the millions paid to ECOT over the years went into the pocket of school founder William Lager, who also owned the companies that were paid to operate the school.
That should be a no-brainer, but SB 216 as passed Wednesday assigned the online-school-funding study group to study transparency requirements as well. That looks a lot like a delay tactic.HB 87 further defers accountability by giving the state’s remaining charter schools an extra two years before they have to include test scores of transferred former ECOT students in their academic-performance results.That sounds reasonable, but it’s unnecessary. Ohio law already holds that no school, charter or traditional, has to count the test performance of any student who hasn’t been at the school for at least a year. […]