Too Many Bad Choices

The school "choice" expansion in Ohio from $0 to $1.1 billion annually is having a draining effect on traditional public schools. With most of money lost to lower performing, unregulated charter schools. This rapid unregulated expansion is also taking a tremendous toll on "choice" schools themselves.

The Columbus Dispatch reported in January that 17 charter schools in the city had failed this year alone.

Nine of the 17 schools that closed in 2013 lasted only a few months this past fall. When they closed, more than 250 students had to find new schools. The state spent more than $1.6 million in taxpayer money to keep the nine schools open only from August through October or November.

The problem is not isolated to Columbus, as the Toeldo Blade reports

Secor Gardens Academy’s short tenure in Toledo came to an abrupt end, as the school closed its doors over the weekend because of financial struggles.

The charter school, which opened in the fall, was based in the back of the Armory Church, 3319 Nebraska Ave. School Superintendent Samuel Hancock and others involved with the school realized the school’s finances had become untenable, said James Lahoski, superintendent of North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, the school’s sponsor.

Comically, the leader of this "school" couldn't even provide an enrollment figure. According to the Department of Education FY 14 Detail Funding Report this charter was receiving $220,952.70 for FY 2014. We wonder if the leader of this school is unable to account for that, too.

According to the dispatch 29% of Ohio's charter schools have closed, and the pace of opening and closing is accelerating

It took 15 years for Ohio’s list of closed charters to reach 134; then that number grew by almost 13 percent last year from charters closing in Columbus alone.

We expect the acceleration to continue, as the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, Forty-five new charter schools opened in Ohio this academic year, but with only 600 new students. That isn't sustainable. Schools cannot properly run with just a handful of students attending them, and they certainly shouldn't be ran out of the backs of churches. Students need a stable learning environment, with quality facilitates in order to thrive.

Charter schools in Ohio have been allowed to epxand faster than the pool of students wishing to attend them, and the oversight of the quality of the schools being opened has been cast aside.

The School Choice movement and the legislature in Ohio needs to step up and put an end to this train wreck, and take a long hard look at the charter school authorizing process.