What can be done to level the playing field between charter schools and the public common school system and what public policies should the state apply to private schools that accept vouchers?

9/26/2013

The state’s actions to shield charter schools from a plethora of statutes and regulations to which traditional school districts are subjected, have allowed charter schools to cloak their operations with thick darkness that thwarts transparency and accountability.  The charter school horse is out of the barn, but responsible use of the school district money that is extracted to support these private operations cries out for transparency and accountability.

However, more transparency and accountability are not enough.  The current education marketplace philosophy is that charter schools and traditional districts are competing.  Okay—then why not level the playing field completely?  If a state law or regulation is required for traditional school districts, then it should be applied to charter schools.  Why exempt a particular marketplace competitor from any law or regulation?

There is no rationale for charters to be exempt from the standards that teachers be highly qualified, (OTES-teacher evaluation system), audits of for-profit charter school management companies, budgeting and financial operations’ requirements, retention of school records, etc., etc.

Since the charter school movement has been hijacked by profiteers and other operators not focused on high quality education, all of the exemptions for charter schools should be eliminated immediately.  The State Auditor must be required to follow the public dollar wherever it flows.

State laws and regulations should follow voucher students to private schools.  Transparency and accountability must be attached to each tax dollar that flows to private schools by way of vouchers.  Those who advocate for the notion that public money should follow the student instead of flowing to the public common school system should also advocate for public scrutiny of the private education provider.

State officials must be held accountable to the citizens of Ohio for how they allocate tax dollars.  Personal ideology and campaign contributions should not thwart sound public policy.

Citizens will make appropriate decisions, including political ones, if they have the facts.  Of paramount importance is the common good—not the special interests of a few.

It is disheartening that public common school students are being deprived of essential educational programs and services, while for-profit charter companies, many of which are based out of Ohio, are making millions in profits.

It is urgent that the facts are shared by every conceivable means.  Ohioans, generally speaking, have been kept in the dark about the lack of accountability and transparency of privately-operated charter schools.

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