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:

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...


Research tells us what works to serve gifted and talented students, including how best to identify these students and how to use acceleration strategies appropriately. A new resource, Developing Academic Acceleration Policies: Whole Grade, Early Entrance, and Single Subject, offers direction and clarity to school districts on gifted education practices, guidance many practitioners lack today.

Gifted and talented children need and deserve appropriate levels of challenge and stimulation as they reach for their personal best. Unfortunately, far too many children experience low expectations in their classrooms. Recent research by Dr. Scott Peters and others reveals that up to 10 percent of children perform four or more grade levels above the grade level standards used in their classrooms.

Acceleration strategies—such as advancing students an entire grade level or in specific subjects—are one of the most effective approaches to help ensure all children who demonstrate readiness for more advanced instruction receive quality gifted and talented programming. They allow students to access curriculum content, skills, and understandings before their expected age or grade level. Rather than requiring gifted children to endure repetitive work with content they have already mastered, educators can use a variety of acceleration strategies to challenge these learners...


Editor’s Note: As Ohioans prepare to elect a new governor this November, 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 seventh in our series, under the umbrella of supporting great educators. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Establish a competitive grant program that would provide funds to implement human-capital initiatives aimed at attracting and/or developing classroom talent. These grants could be used to support innovative compensation strategies, such as differential pay structures, signing or performance bonuses, or assistance with paying off student loans. They could also be used to implement mentoring, evaluation, retention, and development programs that ensure great teachers remain in classrooms and take on instructional leadership roles. The grants should be open to districts, charter and STEM schools, as well as to consortia of educational institutions.

Background: Attracting talented individuals to the teaching profession remains key to developing a high-performing K–12 system. But in an increasingly competitive job market, schools have had trouble drawing top talent into...