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