Ohio Speaker of the House Jon Husted (R-Kettering) took over four hours out of his very busy schedule Monday and visited two charter schools in Dayton, and plans more school visits across the state in the near future.
Husted visited ISUS, a premier drop-out recovery program, in the morning and spent nearly two hours at the Dayton Academy in the afternoon. He asked sharply focused questions of Dayton Academy board members, administrators and teachers, seeking to better understand the problems and potential of public charter schools in Ohio.
However, first impressions are important in schools as well as business.
“I can walk into a school and know in five minutes what I am going to find on the performance side,” Husted said. “If the children are well behaved, well mannered toward their teachers, then when you look at the report card, the grades are there. If you don’t see those things, you know it is going to be chaotic.”
Husted said his first impression at the Dayton Academy was of well-behaved and focused students, who carried around “a sense of pride.”
The school, created in 1999 and with a current enrollment of nearly 800, has shown steady progress in the state proficiency exams the last three years.
“We think we have a model here that can be replicated throughout the state,” said Dick Penry of Alliance Community Schools, which oversees both the Dayton Academy and the Dayton View Academy. Both schools are run by the Edison charter management organization.
Husted asked Penry what elements are necessary to make a successful charter school.
“Three things, I think,” Penry replied. “One is a strong governing board, second is a strong sponsor, and third is a credible management company, like Edison.”
Husted said the legislature in Columbus is starting to deal with some of the performance challenges facing the state’s weaker charter schools.
He shared that changes put into state law last summer are now starting to have an impact on schools. Husted observed, “We are starting to see the collapse of weak schools and the growth of successful ones.”