Charters & Choice


Lower state report card grades open the door for more charters and vouchers

Now that Ohio’s safe harbor provisions have ended, there’s more opportunity for voucher and charter school expansion. Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell explains that “eligible areas for vouchers will double and areas where charter schools are allowed to start will rise more than 600 percent for next fall.” However, Fordham’s Aaron Churchill says not to expect an influx of charter schools. Because the challenged school district list wasn’t official until December, potential new charters will have very little time to complete all the requirements for opening a new school in 2019.

The school choice “draining money” myth

Yesterday, Choice Media announced the premiere of its new video, which tackles the myth that charter and private schools take funding away from traditional district schools. In the video, Choice Media’s Founder and Executive Director explains the “three blindfolds” it takes to believe the myth and gives a counter argument. Bowden argues that “the myth is meant to protect a billion dollar status quo, even when that status quo isn’t doing right by kids or isn’t doing right by a particular kid.”



School choice’s hopeful new year

On this week’s podcast, Lindsey Burke, a director at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, joins Mike Petrilli and David Griffith to explain why school choice is poised to have a good 2019, despite its many headwinds. On the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines the relationship between automatic-college-admission policies and the college preferences of low- and high-income students.

Amber’s Research Minute

Kalena E. Cortes and Jane Arnold Lincove, “Match or Mismatch? Automatic Admissions and College Preferences of Low- and High-Income Students,” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (December 2018).


Automatic charter closure questioned

Ohio’s automatic closure law closes persistently low-performing charter schools. Not enforced the last few years because of safe harbor, fifty-two Ohio charter schools just received notice that if their performance doesn’t improve next year, then they will be forced to close. Fordham’s Aaron Churchill breaks down the issue in a new piece and notes, “given the significant policy shifts since the enactment of Ohio's original automatic closure law, legislators should revisit the state’s automatic closure criteria.”

Ohio’s urban charters are now better and more cost-effective

Neerav Kingsland, a managing partner at The City Fund, recently wrote a blog about charter school performance and funding in Ohio, citing Fordham’s recent report card analysis. Kingsland explains that urban charter schools still have some work to do, but it appears that they’re now better than Ohio’s urban traditional schools at increasing student learning and doing so while receiving less money.  

A call for better facilities and funding for charters

This week, Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), wrote a piece that appeared in The 74 in which she discusses the...


With Ohio’s safe harbor provisions now in the rearview mirror, formal consequences for poor school ratings have reemerged. Among them is the automatic closure law, first enacted in 2006, which requires low-performing charter schools to permanently close. Recently, the Ohio Department of Education released data revealing that fifty-two of Ohio’s 311 charter schools are at-risk of closure under this statute (including one sponsored by our sister organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation). Taken together, the schools on this “watch list” enrolled 15,557 students last year, about the size of the Dayton Public School District. Charters are in jeopardy of closure when assigned F’s on specific measures—e.g., performance index and value added—based on their most recent data; schools must close when they receive two years of low ratings within a three-year window.  

There are rumors about efforts to roll back the automatic closure statute. That’s not surprising given the severity of the penalty and the sharp rise in the number of charters in jeopardy of closure. As my former colleague Jamie Davies O’Leary has reported, only four schools sat on the watch list in the year prior to safe harbor. While not every school on the...



Ohio teacher shares her experience with online teaching

Last week, Jessica Creager, a high school social studies teacher for Great River Connections Academy, published a piece on the Columbus Moms Blog discussing what it’s like teaching in an online environment. Creager, an experienced classroom teacher before joining Great River six months ago, talks about the transition from a traditional classroom to online and what it has meant to her.

Dayton Early College Academy completes building purchase

The Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) recently purchased the downtown building that currently houses their middle school, which they have leased since 2016. Though no renovation plans are currently in the works, DECA Superintendent Judy Hennessey notes that owning the building makes it more likely they’ll pursue future facility improvements.

Charter schools and content-rich curriculum

In a recent piece, Fordham’s Robert Pondiscio explains that if a knowledge-rich curriculum is your favorite flavor of education reform, school choice is no side issue; it’s a proof point. He discusses the importance of Core Knowledge—especially for disadvantaged students, explains that charter schools are far more likely to adopt Core Knowledge than traditional district schools, and notes several...


This is the final Ohio Charter News Weekly of 2018. We'll pick back up on January 5, 2019. Happy holidays!


Pathway to Success: Profile of Toledo School for the Arts

Fordham released the latest in its Pathway to Success series this week. It features Toledo School for the Arts, one of Ohio’s oldest charter schools that was forged from concerns about the state of arts education. This profile shows how one specialized charter school has been able to tap into students’ interests, focusing and inspiring them to cultivate their talents. You can find the profile here. If you’d like for Fordham to feature your school or a student’s story in an upcoming report, contact Madison Yoder.

Auditor recommends changes to e-school funding

Last week, the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office released a report that details flaws that it sees in how Ohio funds e-schools and offers solutions for how the state should move forward. Some recommendations include: Clarifying how e-schools will be evaluated under the current system; exploring best practices for e-school funding, including performance-based funding; considering whether the Education Department’s duties should be divided or restructured; and more.




Toledo’s charter schools on par with districts

The Toledo Blade recently published a story comparing the advantages, criticisms, and performance of Toledo area charter schools to traditional public schools. The author (using data) explains that while charter schools typically perform similarly to district schools, for many families, the appeal of charters often extends beyond academics. As one parent said, “I’m totally sold on the charter school as far as small school class sizes, the individuality the kids get, and just the love that all the administrators show.”

Communities in Schools expands its reach to charters

Communities in Schools of Central Ohio has helped Columbus City School’s students overcome at-home challenges and improve performance, attendance, and behavior for 25 years. The group recently expanded its work to charter schools, including two of the Graham Schools. You can read more about the work they’re doing for students and families here

Ohio’s first tuition-free, public classical school to open in Toledo

More news from Toledo: Ohio’s first public, tuition-free classical school, the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy, is expected to open next year. The K-8 academy is expected to serve around 250 students and will...


America’s choice deserts

On this week’s podcast, Lindsey Rust, National Director of Implementation for the American Federation of Children, joins Mike Petrilli and David Griffith to discuss whether private schools serve as oases in charter school deserts. On the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines whether parents’ aspirations for their children to go to college someday are affected by receiving new information on the cost, and returns, on completing post-secondary education.

Amber’s Research Minute

Albert Cheng and Paul E. Peterson, “Experimental Estimates of Impacts of Cost-Earnings Information on Adult Aspirations for Children’s Postsecondary Education,” The Journal of Higher Education (August 2018).


2018 Schooling in America Survey

This week, Indianapolis-based EdChoice released their annual Schooling in America Survey, which measures public opinion and awareness on different K-12 education topics, including charter schools. The survey found that six out of 10 Americans (61 percent) say they support charter schools (while 29 percent say they are opposed). In addition, parents were more than twice as likely to say they were “very satisfied” with charter schools and private schools than district schools.

E-School funding panel

Ohio’s new E-school funding panel met last week, where they heard from national and state experts on how other states are funding online charter schools and potential ways for Ohio to move forward. Experts explained that while funding for virtual schools differs from state to state, it doesn’t appear that any state has figured out the single best way to fund them. You can access presentations and testimony from the meeting here.  

Charter School Funding: (More) Inequity in the City

The School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas has released a new report that compares the levels and sources of funding between traditional public schools and charter schools...


Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece that charged school district officials in various cities with attempting to stall the growth of school choice by refusing to sell vacant properties to charter schools, or to private schools that accept vouchers.

The paper didn’t mention any Ohio cities, but the story is regrettably similar here. In a 2016 survey of principals from high-performing Ohio charters, nearly half of respondents noted that local public school districts are generally uncooperative when it comes to making buildings and facilities available. Many leaders speculated that they were denied buildings specifically because they were viewed as competition. About 60 percent of them believed that enforcing the Ohio statute that requires traditional districts to offer unused buildings to charters would be a “very effective” way to improve the charter sector.

The state law they are referring to requires traditional districts to offer unused school facilities[1] for lease or sale to charter schools, college-preparatory boarding schools, and STEM schools—all schools of choice—before they are able to sell to anyone else. The provision is commonly known as “right of first refusal,” and Ohio’s version requires districts to offer...