Ohio???s charter schools: Threats from within

Gadfly has
Ohio lawmakers for their efforts to water down charter-school
accountability in the Buckeye State. If upheld in the state’s biennial budget
(due to be finalized by month’s end), these provisions would downgrade the
charter movement in Fordham’s home state to a “full-fledged
contender for America’s worst
.” An in-depth article in last weekend’s Dayton Daily News spotlights the worst
of those legislative provisions and the man who appears to be responsible for
them (despite denials by some House members): David Brennan, Akron
industrialist and founder of White Hat Management. This firm is currently being
sued by the boards of nine Ohio charter schools for illegally usurping their
independent oversight and authority over said schools. But if the budgetary
provisions passed by the Ohio House were to stand, that court case might be
moot. White Hat would be allowed to continue operating all schools sans oversight, despite its slipshod
educational-performance record: Two thirds of the schools it operates are rated
D or F by the state. (To be fair, many of these schools serve kids who had previously
dropped out.) It’s no wonder, then, that Brennan—who has lined GOP pockets with
millions of dollars in campaign contributions—lobbied the Republican-controlled
Ohio House to insert language that would allow White Hat to “keep secret
details of how it spends… public money
.” Gadfly is cautiously optimistic that
this can get set right before the budget is completed. Two days ago, the
heavily Republican Ohio Senate removed these harmful charter-school provisions
from the budget bill. Now, however, House
and Senate must work out their differences
—and there is early evidence that
the Speaker isn’t about to yield. Presumably Brennan isn’t, either.

oversight could be eliminated with new legislation
,” by Tom Beyerlein, Dayton Daily News, May 29, 2011.

Senate budget restores some aid to schools
,” by Jim Siegel, Columbus Dispatch, June 1, 2011.