Senate’s charter-school bill praised by past critic of Ohio laws

The co-author of a scathing 2014 report assessing charter-school laws in Ohio said new legislation aimed at improving charter-school oversight and accountability would “significantly strengthen” state regulations.

Andy Smarick of Boston-based Bellwether Education Partners found that after more than 15 years, Ohio charter-school laws favored for-profit management companies, are wrought with lax oversight and allow poorly performing schools to remain open while doing little to attract the kind of superior charter schools being established in other states.

“Chartering is doing extraordinarily well elsewhere,” Smarick said yesterday in addressing a Senate subcommittee that is hearing testimony on a pair of charter-school bills, including one passed by the House. He noted that urban charter students in several states are outperforming students in traditional urban districts.

“But as you know, the same researchers found that the charter results in Ohio are not nearly as strong,” he said. “Your urban charter students aren’t benefiting from the gains we’re witnessing elsewhere.”

Smarick said Senate Bill 148 would address a number of key problems with Ohio charter-school laws, by improving the ability of the state to hold sponsors accountable, including a new rating system; ensuring that sponsors don’t use state funding on non-school functions; preventing sponsors from selling services to their schools; and stopping “sponsor hopping,” in which a poorly performing school closes but quickly reopens simply by finding a new sponsor.

(Read more at the Dispatch)