Dayton Daily News ran two articles yesterday illustrating a frustrating dichotomy when it comes to charter school quality in Ohio, one lifting up the happy fact that eight of the top ten public schools in Dayton are charters and the other exploring Ohio's ?death penalty? for poorly performing charters (a law that shuttered five this year and threatens another 19 next year).

The articles also illustrate Fordham's unique role in the Buckeye State ? juxtaposing the fact that we are simultaneously advocates of choice (and were among the first to point out gladly that Cleveland and Dayton had significant numbers of high-performing charters, via our annual analysis of Ohio's achievement results) but also strict believers in quality.

We are no ideologues when it comes to choice for choice's sake ? we want good charters to thrive and the bad ones to be closed. Even if it's one of our own.

Dayton Daily highlights one such Fordham-sponsored school in Dayton that is eligible for closure next year, if it remains in Academic Emergency, noting that:

Ironically, the school's sponsor, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, pushed hard for the language in the law to shut down failing charter schools based on poor performance.?

Terry is quoted in the article ? and in usual fashion minces no words:

Now the language has come around to impact a school we authorize?? We think it's good language and we support it.

After analyzing academic performance in the Buckeye State for seven years, it's fair to say that even with our own schools there's no room to wear rose-colored glasses. We've come to terms with the fact that while eight of Dayton's top ten schools in 2009-10 were charters, four of the five shuttered schools (statewide) were also in the Gem City. We'll continue to celebrate the successes of the charter sector and push hard for policies and reforms to help more of them thrive. But we'll also stand true to our belief that bad schools be shut.

- Jamie Davies O'Leary

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