Ohio Policy

For information on Fordham's unique role as a charter school sponsor in Ohio, there's no better source than The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Sponsorship Accountability Report 2006-07. The report offers a comprehensive account of Fordham's sponsorship policies and practices-as well as individual profiles of all Fordham-sponsored schools. Included in the profiles are descriptions of each school's educational program, school philosophy, and overall academic performance.

Despite a decade of significant school reform efforts in Ohio, students in the state's largest cities still struggle mightily to meet basic academic standards and are nowhere close to achieving the goals set by the federal No Child Left Behind law, according to an analysis of the latest Ohio school report-card data.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute found 46 percent of 183,000 public and charter school students in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton are attending schools graded either D or F (officially, academic watch or academic emergency). That compares to about 75,000 students in D or F schools in the entire rest of the state.

See the full press release here.

City-by-city Analysis

Cincinnati

Cleveland

Columbus

Dayton

Analysis of District and Charter School Performance in the Ohio 8

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute also commissioned Public Impact to conduct a brief analysis of charter school performance in 2006-2007. See their findings here.

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Dating to 1920, Ohio's State Teacher Retirement System (STRS) is the oldest of the Buckeye State's five public pension systems. It now covers close to half a million members--active, inactive, and retired--or one member for every ten Ohio households.

Despite its long history and prodigious size, all is not well with Ohio's teacher pension system. In this Fordham Institute report, nationally renowned economists Robert Costrell and Mike Podgursky illuminate some of the serious challenges facing STRS.

Among the report's findings are serious questions about the system's long-term health and sustainability. STRS is becoming increasingly expensive for all contributors. Employees contribute 10 percent of their earnings to the pension fund and employers contribute 14 percent, for a total contribution of 24 percent. This total has drifted up from 10 percent since 1945. Yet this is still insufficient to meet the state's funding goals: the system's unfunded liability is $19.4 billion, which represents a debt of over $4,300 per Ohio household. This liability far exceeds that of the state's other four public pension systems combined, despite the fact that STRS's membership is little more than one-third of those systems.

A system that is so large and increasingly costly should meet basic public policy requirements of transparency and efficiency. Sadly, the system fails to meet either requirement: it lacks transparency, and its incentives are perverse. As a result, Ohio's pension system almost certainly hinders rather than helps in the recruitment and retention of a highly qualified teaching workforce.

Related Resources

See the press...

Between April 29th and May 8th, 2007, the FDR Group conducted a telephone survey of 1,000 randomly selected Ohio residents (margin of error +/-3 percentage points). The survey covers such topics as school quality and funding, academic standards, school reforms, proposals to improve how the public schools are run, teacher quality, charter schools and school vouchers. Additional interviews were conducted with residents from five of Ohio’s largest cities to enable a reliable comparison of their views. This survey is a follow-up to one conducted in 2005 and many of the questions are repeated, allowing us to gauge whether attitudes have shifted over time.

Related Resources

See a summary of the findings here.

See a PowerPoint presentation on the survey here.

For information on Fordham's unique role as a charter school sponsor in Ohio, there's no better source than The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Sponsorship Accountability Report 2005-06. The report offers a comprehensive account of Fordham's sponsorship policies and practices-as well as individual profiles of all Fordham-sponsored schools. Included in the profiles are descriptions of each school's educational program, school philosophy, and overall academic performance based on state achievement data.

At the request of Ohio's top government and education leaders, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools have issued a report seeking to strengthen the state's charter school program. Among its 17 recommendations are calls for closing low-performing charter schools and holding sponsors more accountable for oversight of the growing charter movement while also helping more high-performance schools to open and succeed in Ohio. In return for sharply stepped-up accountability, restrictions on the formation of high-quality charters should be removed, and charter schools should receive more equitable funding.

Turning the Corner to Quality bases its findings on research and analysis of Ohio school performance data; a review of best practices in other states; input from experts in charter school finance, sponsorship, accountability and policy; and evaluation of dozens of policy options.

 Ohioans Sound Off on Public Schooling, with a SPECIAL ANALYSIS of the Views of African Americans and Dayton Residents

What do ordinary Ohioans think about the myriad education reforms enacted in the Buckeye state over the last half-decade? How do parents, taxpayers, and citizens view public schooling in 2005? Do they like these reforms? Seek more or less of them? Have confidence that they'll succeed? Fordham decided to enlist veteran analysts Steve Farkas and Ann Duffett to examine the attitudes of Ohio residents toward their public schools. The results? Ohioans are frustrated with their K-12 education system on a number of fronts, and feel the state is in dire need of stronger, better leadership when it comes to education. Policymakers would do well to pay attention.

How are charter schools in Ohio truly performing when compared to their district counterparts? The latest Fordham Foundation report, School Performance in Ohio's Inner Cities: Comparing Charter and District School Results in 2005 provides a rare apples-to-apples comparison of charter school and district school achievement in four of Ohio's cities: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton. The results reveal that the performance of charter pupils isn't as dismal as Ohio's charter opponents want you to believe. However, the findings also illuminate the larger problem: ALL public schools in the Buckeye State still have a long way to go to reach academic success.

On April 21, 2005, Fordham President Chester E. Finn, Jr.  and Program Director Terry Ryan testified before the Alternative Education Subcommittee of the Ohio House of Representatives. They discussed Ohio's community schools (a.k.a. charter schools), which face a developing paradox: the more they expand and the more students they serve, the more threatened they become, by internal and external forces alike.

Charter school opponents have been taking shots nationally at charter schools in recent days, but these sorts of attacks have been a common occurrence in Dayton, Ohio since charter schools first opened there in 1998. Herewith is a report from the field on how charter schools are faring in the Buckeye State circa September 2004.

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