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Monday, June 29, 2015

One More Way Campaign Cash Keeps Protecting Bad Ohio Charters

I know we're perhaps 24 hours away from a meaningful piece of Ohio Charter School reform. However, reminders keep popping up about just how limited these reform measures are. That's because Ohio's for-profit operators, who have given millions to politicians over the years are legislative and administrative ninjas.

The latest example? Apparently, E-Schools don't have their poor test scores counted for the first year a student attends the school -- traditionally the worst testing year for these students.

Need I remind you that the two largest individual campaign contributors since the charter program started are William Lager, who runs the nation's largest for-profit school The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, and David Brennan, who runs OHDELA, another E-School? Lager's school got all Fs and 1 D on the state report card, while Brennan's school has the worst overall test scores of any statewide Ohio E-School.

Imagine how bad these schools would be if the state actually counted their first year? How did this happen? Like it always has here -- in the tiny legislative details that make human eyes go cross. Here's how the Beacon Journal described it:

"Academic performance is so inexplicably bad for first-year students in online charter schools that the state, when deciding to shut them down, has chosen to ignore thousands of test scores not only for the online schools, but also for all charter schools.Two years ago, Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio legislature approved a law that threw out first-year test scores after it was discovered that student performances plummeted when they switched from a traditional public school to a stay-at-home charter school."
That's right. The students' performance is so "inexplicably bad" that we just won't count it. So that must be the same for local public schools, right? I mean, it's only fair. Except ... it's not. Of course, if the students come back from the E-School, the local district is absolutely accountable for their performance from Day 1. 
To be fair, I guess the returning student's poor performance is explicable -- they just came back from a horrible Ohio E-School.
This is why even with meaningful reform apparently coming down soon, we must remain vigilant. Against ninjas.