COLUMBUS – February 18, 2015 – Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Becky Higgins today urged members of the Ohio House Education Committee to adopt provisions that would close persistently failing charter schools and to revise the way in which charter schools are funded so that local public schools are not disadvantaged. In her testimony on House Bill 2, Higgins called HB 2 a good foundation upon which more comprehensive charter school reform should be built. A complete copy of her testimony is attached.
Higgins said Ohio’s current charter school law does too little to ensure good choices. “The result is that real choice is too often the exception, not the rule,” said Higgins. “Too many students are going to charter schools that do not perform as well their local public school.”
OEA agrees with StudentsFirst Ohio Executive Director Greg Harris, who told the Columbus Dispatch, “We think a lot of them (charters) need to be closed, because they’re not doing a good job. We think charters have a role in the education base, but we also think most of the charters in Ohio stink…..”
Higgins offered three principles, in her testimony, that OEA believes should be part of comprehensive charter school reform.
“First, accelerate the process for closing failing charter schools. Many charter schools have been persistently underperforming for years,” said Higgins. “We urge you to adopt provisions that would shut down failing charters more quickly.”
She cited research at Stanford University showing that charters that fail after 3 years will almost always fail.
“Second, ensure that charter schools are subject to the same public records laws and financial transparency standards as any other public entity,” Higgins testified. “We urge you to make charter schools, their sponsors and operators subject to the same public records, meeting and financial inspection requirements as any other public entity.”
She noted that for too long, the public has not been able to see many of the financial dealings of charters, their sponsors and operators.
“Third, fund charter schools in a way that doesn’t penalize local public schools,” said Higgins. “We urge you to find ways in which to fund charter schools so that children in local public schools aren’t deprived of needed resources.”
She noted several ways this can be done, such as having the state directly fund charters or limiting the money taken from local districts to the amount of the state’s per-pupil share. Under the current system, said Higgins, “too much money is going to poor performing charters at the expense of kids in local public schools.”
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The Ohio Education Association (ohea.org) represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio’s public schools, colleges and universities.
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