Quality Choices

Nationally and in Ohio, we strive to develop policies and practices leading to a lively, accessible marketplace of high-quality education options for every young American (including charter schools, magnet schools, voucher programs, and online courses), as well as families empowered and informed so that they can successfully engage with that marketplace.


Our many choice-related blog posts are listed below.

Fordham’s choice experts:


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...

Lauren Morando Rhim

In a recent commentary on this blog, I expressed concern regarding the growth of specialized charter schools: that is, schools designed solely or primarily to educate students with disabilities. Regrettably, my commentary failed to convey the nuance this complex and important topic deserves. The National Center for Special Education Charter Schools (NCSECS), and I as its founding executive director, support the creation of a wide range of high-quality educational environments for students with disabilities. And many of the specialized charter schools currently operating across the country are providing excellent and legally compliant educational options to students.

While I support the concept of specialized charter schools, I do so in ways that are highly context-specific, and with an awareness of the risks these schools can create. Continued authorization and growth of specialized charter schools requires care and precision given the potential unintended consequences, which could include: limiting choices for students, driving students into unnecessarily restrictive settings, and decreasing accountability and expectations. Each of these risks is elaborated more fully below along with a few examples of why these apprehensions require consideration.

Limitation of choice

Growth of specialized charter schools designed to provide parents with choice could have the unintended consequence...


I attended the open house for eighth graders earlier this week at my local high school in Rhode Island and came away thinking, “what in the fresh hell?” The student tour guides were wonderful, knowledgeable, enthusiastic about academics and teachers, and great ambassadors for the school. Our tour was short because we arrived late, but we still had to time to head over to the wellness center, which was essentially three basketball courts filled with tables, each representing a different athletic team. The gym was buzzing with current students of all ages wearing matching t-shirts, and from what I could tell, coaches were present as well. The path from the main building to the building with the gyms was lit with Christmas lights in the school’s colors—blue and white—and singing and dancing student groups performed throughout the evening. There was a festive feel and a genuine attempt to showcase all that the school has to offer.

But then I bumped into two moms from our parent-teacher organization (PTO). We chatted a bit by the table with offerings of water, snacks, and Hershey kisses. Then things took an ugly turn when I confessed that my son was likely going to a...



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...



Online charter proves a great fit for Gahanna student

Vanessa McCoy, an Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) graduate, wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the Dispatch recently. McCoy explains why she enrolled in OCA and the flexibility it afforded her.

Enrollment doubles at Sandusky’s only charter school

Monroe Preparatory Academy, Sandusky’s only charter public school, has experienced significant growth since relocating to its current location this spring. According to Erik Thorson, the school administrator, enrollment at the K-6 school has doubled and plans are in the works to add seventh- and eighth-grade classes.

ODE releases charter school sponsor ratings

A couple of weeks ago, the Ohio Department of Education released sponsor ratings for the 2017-2018 school year. The ratings, a function of Ohio’s sponsor evaluation system, categorized more than half of Ohio’s charter sponsors as “effective.” The Dayton Daily News digs into the details and gets reactions to the ratings.

Stop trying to claim charters “steal” money from traditional public schools

Christian Barnard, a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation, recently published an op-ed in the Washington Examiner in which he explains that charters don’t “steal”...


After the recent mid-term election, we published our analysis of newly elected and re-elected governors and where they stand on the issue of private school choice. We also saw changes at the state legislative level that could have implications for educational choice.

What do the election results mean in states that have existing school choice programs in place? What potential effect might they have when it comes to enacting new programs? Now that all the races have officially been called, we break down the states to watch in 2019 and beyond.


Governor Kay Ivey, who has long advocated for educational choice, was elected to her first full term after filling a vacancy in 2017. Alabama has an opportunity to expand its existing tax-credit scholarship program, which served more than 3,500 families last year.


Alaskans elected Mike Dunleavy as their next governor. As a state senator, Dunleavy sponsored Senate Joint Resolution Nine, which would have allowed for school choice programs to be utilized in Alaska. School choice champions also won a number of state legislative seats that will determine whether the Last Frontier will embrace its first private school choice program in the coming years.



Editor’s Note: As Ohioans await the start of the new governor’s term in January, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the ninth in our series, under the umbrella of creating transparent and equitable funding systems, and the second to be published following the election of Mike DeWine as Ohio’s next governor. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Repeal the statutory provision that prescribes a pass-through method for paying schools of choice—public charter schools, independent STEM schools, and the bulk funding for private school scholarship programs. Instead, they should require ODE to pay schools of choice directly—apart from districts—out of the state Foundation Funding appropriation. However, a separate budget line item (subject to a line-item veto) should not be created to fund schools of choice.

Background: The vast majority of state funds allocated to public charter schools, independent STEM schools, and private school choice programs are passed through local district budgets. Here’s how it works: the state (1)...



Albert Einstein Academy: Making a difference for bullied students

The Albert Einstein Academy (AEA), an Ohio charter school, is being recognized for being a “life saver” to many LGBTQ students in the Cleveland area. AEA is one of the few schools in the country that focuses specifically on LGBTQ students, and it’s giving students who have been bullied a place to feel safe and belong. You can hear from AEA students and how the school has changed their lives here.

New e-school funding panel meeting

A newly established legislative committee created to examine how e-schools should be funded conducted its first meeting on Thursday. Committee members heard testimony from the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office, and the Legislative Service Commission. At the meeting, Auditor Yost’s policy advisor recommended that Ohio use a hybrid-model for funding online schools, where funding is provided for fixed costs and then given based on student competency on in-person exams.

New video resources on charter school authorizers

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) has released two new videos to help people better understand how charter school authorizing works. In the videos, they...


Editor’s Note: As Ohioans await the start of the new governor’s term in January, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the eighth in our series, under the umbrella of empowering Ohio’s families, and the first to be published following the election of Mike DeWine as Ohio’s next governor. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Remove the statutory provisions that confine startup brick-and-mortar charters to “challenged districts” (the Big Eight, Lucas County, and other low-performing districts). Currently, this policy allows charters to start up in just thirty-nine of Ohio’s 610 districts.

Background: Ohio has more than 300 public charter schools (a.k.a. “community schools”) that educate over 100,000 students. Though online (“virtual”) charters have received much attention of late—much of it deservedly critical—the vast majority of charters are traditional brick-and-mortar schools, almost all of which are located in the major cities and serve primarily disadvantaged children (see figure 3; charters are signified by orange dots). The last detailed evaluation...



Extending the New Markets Tax Credit

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) is urging charter school supporters to contact their members of Congress and ask them to support extending the New Markets Tax Credit, which expires in 2019. According to NAPCS, this credit “is one of the most effective tools to help charter schools access affordable facilities.”  

What does Governor-Elect DeWine mean for Ohio school choice?

In short, we don’t know for sure as it wasn’t a major part of the campaign. Fordham’s Jessica Poiner pieces together DeWine’s campaign materials and information from a variety of news sources to give us an overview of what we might expect from a DeWine administration in regards to school choice and education generally.

ECOT’s headquarters changes hands

The Columbus Board of Education recently held its first meeting in the former headquarters of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which they purchased in the summer for about $4 million. The Dispatch explains that the board is currently weighing their options on how they’ll use the space.

Featured event: Ohio in a Post-Janus world

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a...