Charter Schools and Our Tax Dollars

Guest column, submitted by Jim Bauer.

Letter to the Editor:

Charter Schools and Our Tax Dollars

Charter schools must be monitored with scrutiny because of their use of public tax dollars. Since 2008, Ohio-based White Hat Management has used 230 million Ohio tax dollars in the creation of charter schools. They are funded by the State of Ohio based on the numbers of students they enroll. There is a growing role of the private management companies in publicly funded charter schools. These private charter management companies collect the money from the state and then distribute them to their affiliated charter schools. White Hat is the largest for-profit charter in Ohio with 15 affiliated charter schools, despite the fact that only 2 percent of its students are achieving the expected level as determined under federal education law. At the present time 10 of its own schools are suing, complaining that White Hat students are failing, and the company is refusing to account for how it has spent the money. They refuse to account for how much money they make as a profit.

Governor Kasich has been quoted time and time again that schools need to be run like a business. Akron businessman David L. Brennan (with his wife, Ann) established White Hat in 1998. A Columbus Dispatch article in December stated that David Brennan was one of the biggest contributors to Ohio political campaigns in the last 10 years. He was a contributor to Kasich’s campaign as well, certainly a strategic investment to ensure that more tax dollars are funneled his way. White Hat and Mr. Brennan now stand to make millions more as a result of Gov. Kasich’s announcement to remove the cap on the number of charter schools and his “parent trigger” plan where parents can choose to convert their failing public school into a charter school. To me this is nothing more than a corporate payback through our governor’s new policy.

I would assume members of the Tea Party would be upset that their tax dollars are given to “for-profit” schools that are performing at a level well below most public schools. After reading about White Hat --- is this a type of charter school that our governor has in mind? Charter schools must be evaluated and be responsible for every dollar spent. With millions of public tax dollars at stake, our governor and state legislature should demand that these operators be accountable for every expenditure, release a public record of their profits, and produce students performing at the expected level of success.

Jim Bauer

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Petition training at JTF world HQ

Now that we are just about ready to hit the streets and collect signatures to repeal S.B.5, we need to make sure everyone who is going to help is fully trained. Our adversaries are waiting to pounce on the smallest irregularity, and we're determined to not only win by a huge margin, but fair and square.

To that end, you are cordially invited to the JTF world HQ for petition training.

When: April 18th
There are two sessions to choose from:
Session 1: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Session 2: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Where: 947 Goodale Blvd., Columbus, OH. 43212

Parking is available at the rear of the building, and the training will be on the second floor.

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Referendum is Go for Launch

The Secretary of State, John Husted, has certified that enough valid signatures have been collected to allow the full repeal effort of SB5 to begin. The Dispatch via Twitter informs us that "SoS Husted says 2,506 of 2,835 valid (88 percent)".

Furthermore the Attorney General, Mike DeWine, has certified the short referendum language. The long referendum language was rejected as being too long.

The effort to collect signatures to place the SB5 repeal on the ballot is now clear to take place.

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By James J. Brudney, the Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law

Ohio’s new law on collective bargaining, (Senate Bill 5) eviscerates rights for teachers, police, firefighters, and other public employees, rights that have been in place since 1983. In order to understand how this has happened, it makes sense to start with the question why should we care? Does access to collective bargaining really matter to us as Americans, beyond those workers who are represented by unions?

The short answer is an emphatic Yes. Collective bargaining is important to us as a nation for several reasons. First, there is our economic welfare. The growth of collective bargaining promotes a fairer distribution of resources and enhances mass purchasing power. For teachers, police, firefighters, health care workers, and others, it helps create and maintain a robust middle class. A sizable middle class enables these millions of Americans to contribute to economic well-being for the rest of us, by purchasing consumer goods, investing in higher education for their children, buying homes, taking family vacations, etc.

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Notes from Colorado

We thought this might interest a few people.

Almost a year ago, Colorado passed a controversial bill, S.B.191. The Denver Post gives us this synopsis
The legislation would revolutionize teacher and principal evaluations in Colorado, basing 50 percent of their performance on supervisors' reviews and the other half on student growth on standardized tests and other measures. It also would change the way teachers achieve tenure and make it easier for them to lose that job protection — a controversial move that attacks a core tenet held by the teachers union.

Opponents call the legislation an unfunded mandate that places too much financial burden on cash-strapped school districts. They fear it would create a school system where educators "teach to the test" to save their jobs and one where longtime teachers are picked off without due process.
A play by play of this bill, can be found here.

So why do we mention this now? Well the Colorado Department of Education just released their proposal for implementing this bill. The full details can be found at the link, here's the executive summary.

SCEE Executive Summary

The Colorado Education Association's response can be read here.

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Public school battles city over charter

Excellent read of a NY City schools battle with the city over a charter school
But on Dec. 20, city officials unveiled a holiday surprise. The department said it planned to move a middle-grade charter school — Brooklyn East Collegiate, a member of the Uncommon Schools charter chain — into the space opening up at P.S. 9.

In the four months since, P.S. 9 parents have fought City Hall, scoring a few upset victories. But they have also learned a hard lesson: once the mayor’s people set their sights on a location, the chances of successfully challenging a charter are slim. Supporters of district schools fear that once a charter moves in, it will take over the building. They resent being compared academically, when on average, charters in New York City have fewer poor, immigrant and special-education students.

Even before the P.S. 9 parents got started, they were too late.

To add a middle school, department regulations required P.S. 9 to have filed a letter of intent by April 13, 2010; the final application was supposed to have been filed by July 15, 2010.

A classic Catch-22: There was no reason to apply until space was available, but by the time space was available, it was too late to apply.

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