Continued debate on charter schools in Ohio

While we at Fordham view the results of the much talked about Hoxby charter study as encouraging and a good rebuttal to charter critics, here's a reminder of the antagonism toward charters in Ohio.??

In this week's Ohio Education Gadfly, we critiqued a report that called for a "scaling back" of charters in Ohio (by Policy Matters, a union-backed organization). Namely, it made broad claims that charters get an unfair "head start" despite using kindergarten test scores that the Ohio Department of Education itself says "do NOT measure school readiness." Also, the report cited literature that charters perform worse than district schools (we pointed out that it failed to mention Hoxby's report disproving claims that charters steal the better students) and didn't distinguish between Ohio cities where charters are doing well and where they are doing poorly.

The author responded quickly to our post, arguing that higher kindergarten test scores among Ohio charter students (despite the fact that not all charters serve kindergarteners) is evidence of cream-skimming and that charters are not reaching Ohio's hardest-to-education children. He also criticizes Fordham for being an "outspoken charter advocate" and says that current charter policy in Ohio "weakens efforts to create a stronger system." And apparently Hoxby's critique wasn't relevant to mention because she studied students in another state. Instead of trying to ask broad questions about how/why New York has a successful climate for charters - the author prefers the easier (and more politically popular) suggestion to just kill them off in Ohio.

We respond. Fordham is a charter school sponsor, but we have never been one-track-minded in our pursuit of charter growth. That we have closed our own schools (and supported the death penalty for charters in state law) is evidence of our willingness to make tough decisions on behalf of children.

There are many other points of contention. It's unsurprising that opponents in Ohio will use any findings that can conjure up (regardless of the quality of data, the sample size, the breadth of the literature reviewed) to build a case against charters. We point out that in Cleveland and Dayton (with over 14,000 charter students) charters outperform district schools, a fact the author neglects to respond to. We don't like the scores of abysmal charters in our state either, but we also recognize the damage that would be??incurred to students and families well-served by charters if we take an ax to them. And, if we ever were to support such a strategy, it certainly wouldn't be based on a study like this. Read the full exchange here.

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