Fordham's Vice President for Ohio Programs and Policy Terry Ryan testified to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee today about HB 153, the pending biennial budget bill.? You can read his full prepared remarks online here. In short, he ? and the Fordham Institute ? is supportive of much of the education reforms included in Governor Kasich inaugural budget.
In a brutal economic environment the Governor's budget properly focused on the dual goals of improving K-12 education in the Buckeye State while helping schools adjust to doing more with less. The budget pushes reforms that seek to free up school districts to in fact do more with less.
For example, Ryan testified:
Probably the most significant item in the budget that has the potential to lead to significant cost savings over the long haul is language that promotes the expansion of innovative and cost-conscious educational service centers (ESCs), while reducing their state subsidy. HB 153 sets the conditions for ESCs to compete in offering professional services statewide not only to school districts, charter and STEM schools, but to other political subdivisions such as municipalities, townships, counties, and other public entities. This should help expand successful educational service centers while also facilitating economies of scale and consolidation of services and service providers. Ohio has built up an overcapacity of government service providers and support agencies over the decades, and HB 153 sets the conditions for right-sizing both the education sector and local government.
Despite the good things in HB 153, Ryan argued that watering down charter school accountability is troubling because it sets a double-standard that hurts children and families. Ryan told the Senate Finance Committee Members:
There is a matter of fairness here that is important if we want good public policy around education. This budget deals aggressively with district schools ranked in the lowest five percent of performance index scores for three or more consecutive years. This budget seeks to hold teachers accountable for the performance of their students. This budget provides a ?parent trigger? for families in troubled Columbus City Schools. If one supports these policies, as I do, it is then impossible to turn around and say that charter school operators should be free of accountability beyond whether or not kids show up at their door.
When children's education is paid for with public dollars, no matter what sort of school those children attend, the public has the right, even the obligation, to know how well those children are learning the skills and knowledge that they need to succeed in further education and in life. All schools that take public dollars to educate children but that cannot demonstrate their educational efficacy in transparent ways should be put on notice. If they can't fix themselves in a reasonable period of time, this situation must be addressed for the good of the children and the sake of the taxpayer. No school operator, no school district, no teacher should be above accountability for results. This is what we owe our children.