Educational philanthropists spend about $300 million each year on education initiatives--yet too little of this investment is aimed at reshaping education policy. The Ohio Grantmakers Forum (OGF), at least, is trying to change that with Education for Ohio's Future.
The goals pushed by OGF’s report are both noble and timely: mandate a seamless P-16 system with clear priorities, create world-class standards and stronger accountability measures, guarantee quality teachers and principals in every classroom and school, accelerate innovations and options available throughout the system, and ensure adequate funding tied to results.
The report presents some compelling data that Ohio’s current education system is failing to prepare all students to compete in a new global economy. For instance, only one-third of Ohio’s eighth-graders met National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) standards in reading and math; achievement gaps on state tests as large as 33 percentage points exist between white and African American third-, sixth-, and eighth-graders in reading and math; and only 25 percent of Ohio’s residents hold a four-year degree.
Recognizing state charters as one means for combating such dismal figures, OGF recommends some long overdue measures (first suggested here) for improving Ohio’s charter school program. Chief among them are shuttering chronically low-performing charter schools; holding all community school sponsors accountable through performance contracts (78 percent of sponsors are currently exempt from state evaluation); lifting geographic restrictions and caps on the number of charter schools allowed to operate; and providing greater financial support for charter schools, good ones especially.
While the report is packed with good ideas and worth careful consideration by policymakers, it stops short of offering the necessary details and focus required to implement substantial change. Yet what it does provide is a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities the state faces in educating future generations of Ohioans. It’s up to lawmakers, educators, and the rest of us to act on it.
Download a copy of the report here .