Ohio is in the midst of a cosmic tussle around the future of its charter school program. Fordham's Checker Finn has been drawn into this in recent days (see here and here), and the New York Times even picked up on this yesterday with a great quote from Bill Sims of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
The issue, in short, is whether for-profit charter operators should be allowed to operate free of any oversight beyond market forces. The proposed legislation from the Ohio House would neuter both non-profit governing boards and authorizers of their oversight responsibilities and authority, and give school operators carte blanche authority over virtually all school decisions. Let's be clear, we understand that oversight and accountability are things few people or organizations like if they can avoid them. Further, in Ohio charters have to pay their authorizers a fee of up to three percent of their per-pupil funding for this oversight, and that's money that could be spent on programs or in support of the bottom line.
But, consider the alternative. Let us imagine an Ohio without authorizers (aka sponsors in Ohio) or governing boards, which is what the House changes would allow. School operators would police themselves in key areas such as:
Test administration. Absent external oversight, operators would be solely responsible for administering and monitoring state tests. Should an allegation of testing impropriety arise (i.e., teachers cheated), the operator would be responsible for conducting an investigation into...