Failing Charter Schools Dine at the Straight A Fund Trough

The Ohio Department of Education released the list of Straight A applicants that will be moving on to the next scoring phase, as schools are pitted against each other for a chance to win $150 million dollars in the Kasich education funding lottery.

Of those applicant, 17 are charter schools (though some of these are part of a larger consortium, so the true number of charter schools is much higher) making a combined request of $31,397,903.35.

Let's take a closer look at some of these applicants.

The first on the list is Achieve Career Preparatory Academy, a drop out recovery school in Toledo, making a buzzword packed ("3-dimensional learning tools", "focus on student engagement") request for almost $200,000. Not mentioned in the request is that this dropout recovery school only graduates 14.3% of its students according to the latest ODE data. This school needs to be closed down, not handed more money via the Kasich education funding lottery.

Next on our list is the Buckeye On-Line School for Success, which is requesting close to $1 million for an IT system called "Virtualized Operations for Independent and Collaborative Education". The ironically named Buckeye On-Line School for Success is rated F for both performance and Value Add according to the latest ODE data. another example of a charter school that ought to be closed, not handed more taxpayer money.

The Lake Erie Academy is next in the spotlight, with a request for $116,000 "to improve the reading ability of K-8 students at Lake Erie Academy using the computer-based program, Read Naturally Live." This charter school has a D rating for performance and an F for value-add.

More troubling given the nature of this request, is that this charter schools reading performance has declined in each of the last 3 years. in 2010 3rd grade proficiency was 70%, in 2011 56% and in 2012 it was a paltry 25%. 8th grade reading proficiency decline from 61% in 2010 to 41% in 2012. Here we have a low performing charter school in serious decline. Rather than hand more money over so they can continue to fail in their mission, they also need to be closed down.

It should come as little surprise that one of the biggest requests comes from a charter school operated by the politically connected a David Brennan. The White Hat management ran school - Summit academy Secondary in Akron is requested in $6.2 million. As with all White Hat schools, this one is a low performer, meeting just one of its possible standards and receiving a D for performance. They want this $6.2 million to "leverage the power of technology and teacher training to show teachers how to address all student needs in an individualized way". That they are not already doing that is one indication of why these White Hat schools perform so badly.

Throughout this list of Straight A Fund charter school applicants is evidence of why Ohio's charter school experiment is failing. Already an almost $1 billion industry, it needs to be reigned in, not have more money wasted on failure, especially when so many more higher performing traditional public schools have been starved by the governors' education funding policies and forced to fight over scraps via a funding lottery.