Ohio's new charter school "reform" effort: What's all this talk about sponsors?

Ohio doesn't have a simple plan to weed out its bad charter schools.

The state instead has an indirect strategy.

It puts agencies known as "sponsors," called authorizers in most states, in charge of overseeing charter schools, of fixing struggling charters and of closing the ones that can't be fixed. We'll be hearing a lot about Ohio's 69 sponsors this year, since both Gov. John Kasich and House leadership have made them the focus of charter reform plans.

What are they, exactly? Who are they? And why is Ohio just not cleaning up the charter school mess on its own?

We talked this week to Gov. John Kasich, state Superintendent Richard Ross, and State Sen. Peggy Lehner, who heads the Senate Education Committee, about the state's focus on sponsors.

Kasich and Ross said sponsors are the best way to push for improvements at charter schools quickly, without overburdening the Ohio Department of Education. And the governor said having sponsors overseeing the schools will prevent a future governor from undermining them.

Lehner, a Republican from Montgomery County, thinks Kasich's approach may be too narrow. She said she hopes the Senate will come up with changes for other parts of Ohio's charter system this spring.

(Read more at Cleveland.com)