Last week, Gov. John Kasich said in his State of the State Address that
"just because a charter school is not producing great results in grades, it doesn't mean they're failing."
Huh? The whole reason we went to an A-F system was to tell us exactly that -- which schools and districts were failing and which weren't. Wasn't it? I'm not saying that I agree with this idea, but that was the point, right?
So I went back to Kasich's signing ceremony for the bill that created the state's A-F system.
When Kasich signed HB 555 two years ago, the placard on his signing desk said "Empowering Teachers and Parents for Student Achievement". You can watch his whole ceremony here: http://www.ohiochannel.org/MediaLibrary/Media.aspx?fileId=137961
Go ahead. Look for the part where he says if schools get Fs, it doesn't mean they're failing. You'll look for a while.
Here's what Kasich said then:
"We need to speak in clear language that parents can understand... it will let mothers and fathers understand how's it going in reading? How's it going in mathematics? It's going to allow them to see exactly how the school is doing. This is a big deal for our state. Academically."
Now it appears that perhaps that clarity isn't quite as clear for parents of kids in charter schools. Notice he didn't apply that qualification for local school districts, by the way.
Could Kasich's softening on A-F accountability be because Ohio's charter schools do so poorly, especially big campaign donors William Lager (whose Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow is the country's largest for-profit operation and gets all Fs and one D), and David Brennan -- who runs equally struggling schools.
I suppose if you're Kasich, you have to start explaining how you've spoken at graduation ceremonies for schools like ECOT that graduate 35% of their kids -- much lower than even the lowest local public school.
We have a chance to fix Ohio's "debacle" of a charter school sector this year -- a sector that's become a national joke. I've been greatly encouraged by what's come out so far from the legislature. But if the Governor is now saying that the "clarity" brought about by an A-F report card system is less clear for charters than public schools, well, I fear the change our kids desperately need may not happen.
And that's frightening.