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Monday, July 7, 2014

Charters Least Efficient Straight A Recipients

These posts are starting to get old for me. I really hope that our state leaders start doing something about this stuff soon.

Anyway, in the latest Straight A Fund round (Ohio's version of Race to the Top, sort of), there was a $2.075 million award given to a group of Charter Schools in order to "implement a data and assessment system that will help improve student achievement." Now I'm all for that, I guess, but here's the kicker: Of the 37 grantees, no award will realize a smaller amount of cost savings relative to the taxpayer investment than this Charter School proposal.

Each award has a cost and anticipated cost savings attached to it. The Charter Schools' proposal was $2.075 million, with an anticipated savings of about $117,000 -- or 5.7% of the cost. The average savings of all the 37 awards was more than 250%, or nearly 45 times greater than the Charter Schools' proposal.

Here are some examples: The Central Ohio ESC will implement a system that will better match students with adults as they prepare for college and career. The cost savings will be $43 million on the $8.8 million investment. Or an initiative done through Columbus Public Schools in cooperation with Johns Hopkins that will see a 1313% return on the $677,000 investment.

For full disclosure, I was a Straight A reviewer for the first round of applications. And my major criticism of the process is that I couldn't give passing marks to an applicant for fiscal sustainability if the applicant was going to use the money to create additional revenue streams. The only thing I could consider was how much money would be saved. So the fund is essentially incentivizing schools to make permanent cuts in their programming.

So I'm not overly enamored with judging these recipients based on their rate of return. However, am I the only one who finds it curious that the "bloated" public sector recipients have such a better return on investment than their "efficient" private sector counterparts?

If you've been reading this space with any regularity, you shouldn't. But it still makes me wonder why the heck our state leaders are so blind to the obvious -- that Ohio's Charter School system is simply not working, not for our taxpayers and certainly not for our kids.

It's time to seriously reform the reform.