Successful schools suffer in state budget

While we have always supported the function that charter schools serve in Ohio and defended them against undue criticism from their public school counterparts, some of the funding language favoring charters in the new state budget does not seem logical.

And while we have also endorsed Ohio’s tuition vouchers for families to leave failing public schools and send their children to better performing private school, the new state budget seems to illogically overreach its purpose.

Since 1998, charter schools have sprung up to help communities provide an educational opportunity for children who cannot function in the traditional school setting. Expectations that charter schools adhere to the same academic standards as public schools are unfair since they are taking on academically or behaviorally challenged students.

And for many years vouchers have provided educational choice for kids previously stuck in bad schools.

But here are some provisions in the budget passed late last month by the Ohio legislature and signed by Gov. John Kasich:

According to an Innovation Ohio report, the average public school building spends less than 6 percent of its money on administration whereas the average charter school spends more than 28 percent on administration, yet all charter schools were rewarded handsomely in the budget. Ohio should demand that all schools spend more on what directly impacts the classroom and less on administration.

As U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist wrote about vouchers that enable Ohio families to attend private schools, including charters, ”Any objective observer familiar with the full history and context of the Ohio program would view it as one aspect of a broader undertaking to assist poor children in failed schools.” But Ohio now will offer vouchers to families earning up to $94,000 even if they come from public schools rated ”Excellent” on the state report card.

According to the Innovation Ohio report, “90 percent of the money going to charters was taken from districts that perform significantly better on the state’s Performance Index and that 40 percent of the money going to charters in the 2011-12 school year came from traditional school districts that performed better on both the state Report Card and the state Performance Index.”

Charter schools serve a good purpose. So do Ohio’s tuition vouchers. But Ohio should do more to reward, not penalize, successful public schools.