COLUMBUS – September 14, 2015 – The Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers today sent a letter to the Ohio State Board of Education President Thomas Gunlock. Following is the text of that letter:
Dear President Gunlock,
As representatives of Ohio’s professional educators, we share the concern that you and other members of the Ohio Board of Education have expressed about the apparent violation of the law that occurred in the decision by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to exclude the poor grades of online schools in the evaluation of charter school sponsors. In light of the recent disclosure that this decision was made without the apparent knowledge of State Superintendent Ross, we urge you and colleagues on the Board to support an independent investigation of what happened at ODE.
While we welcome the stated intention of Dr. Ross to examine the breakdown in the internal control process, we believe that an external investigation is warranted in order to restore public trust in the decision-making process at ODE. As you know, there is broad bipartisan support on both the Board of Education and in the General Assembly for greater charter school accountability and transparency, and ODE has a critical role to play in achieving that goal. An investigation of the data manipulation by Mr. Hansen and the knowledge that others in the Department had of that decision would help to restore public confidence in ODE’s ability to be a fair and impartial evaluator of charter school sponsors.
Everyone with a stake in Ohio’s education system – policy makers, administrators, educators, charter school sponsors and operators, and above all the students – is hurt by the dismal performance of too many charter schools in this state. Reading media accounts that refer to charters in Ohio as “a national joke” makes us wince. An investigation of what occurred at ODE in the manipulation of data for charter school sponsor ratings is critical to turning around the perception and reality of charter school performance in Ohio.
We urge you to join those State Board members who are seeking an independent investigation of what took place at ODE in the decision to exclude certain data in ODE’s ratings of charter school sponsors.
Becky Higgins, President, Ohio Education Association
Melissa Cropper, President, Ohio Federation of Teachers
cc: Dr. Richard Ross, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Members of the State Board of Education
The Ohio Education Association (ohea.org) represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio’s public schools, colleges and universities.