Ohio congressmen introduce legislation designed to improve state’s charter school system


By Zach Jones - [email protected]



Specifically, the Charter School Accountability Act aims to:

Improve accountability by strengthening transparency and disclosure measures for charter schools.

It would require both independent financial audits and public disclosures about important financial information, like charter documents, performance agreements between the school and its authorizer, the school’s program and mission, student discipline policies and processes, and annual student and teacher attrition rates. The bill also requires disaggregated data on information on disciplinary actions, student recruitment, admission, and retention.

Increase state educational agencies’ charter school accountability measures.

The legislation would require that states have performance standards for charter school authorizers, data on charter school closures, denials of renewals, and canceled charters. States must also have the authority to suspend or revoke a charter school’s authorization based on poor performance or violating policies. Additionally, states must have clear conflict of interest laws for school employees and establish fiduciary duties for officers, directors, managers, and employees of charter schools.

Require charter schools to have parent and community buy-in.

The legislation would ensure charter schools solicit and consider input from parents and community members on how to implement and operate charter schools. This bill also requires that entities receiving federal funds submit plans and descriptions detailing community aand parent involvement in the planning, opening, and operation of charter schools. For traditional public schools applying to convert to charter school status, the bill requires that there is demonstrated support of the conversion by two-thirds of the families attending the school and two-thirds of the school staff. It also calls for charter school authorizers to provide impact statements and reports on the role charter schools have on the overall schools system and provide information on student enrollment trends.

Amid the recent scandals that have taken place among Ohio’s roughly 400 charter schools, legislators are taking action to right the intuitions that educate nearly 123,000 students in the Buckeye State.

“Ohio has been called the wild, wild west of charter schools because of scandals and lack of oversight,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in a press conference earlier today.

According to statistics stated by the senator during the conference, Ohio charter schools misspend their funding at a rate of four times that of public education entities.

In addition to misspending, charter schools have been cited to be failing to properly educate their pupils.

“Students who attend Ohio Charter Schools lose 43 days of math instruction and 14 days of reading instruction than students in public schools,” said Brown.

Despite the large-scale failures among the state’s charter schools, Ohio was awarded $71 million in federal grant money to expand the current scharter school system.

“We were very concerned that this money would be going into a broken system,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan. “Our children deserve better. I introduced the Charter School Accountability Act to increase transparency and oversight of the U.S. charter school system – the 123,000 Ohio students attending charter schools, and their parents, should never have to worry if they are getting the education they are owed. We must learn from the Ohio Department of Education’s mistakes and ensure charter school programs around the country make student success their top priority.”

During the news conference, Brown and Ryan outlined bicameral legislation that would increase the amount of accountability, transparency and community involvement in Ohio’s charter schools and help ensure a high-quality education for every child.

“Our children pay the price for the mismanagement of charter schools,” Brown said. “This bill would help ensure a high-quality education for every child. By including some of these measures in the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate already sent a strong, bipartisan message that all our schools need to be held accountable—it’s time for the House to follow suit.”

Earlier this year, Brown introduced the Charter School Accountability Act – parts of which were included in the Senate-passed Every Child Achieves Act, legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Reauthorization Act. Today, Ryan introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In July, the executive director of the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Quality School Choice and the Office of Community Schools, resigned after admitting to deliberately leaving out failing grades of online charter schools.

The legislation intends to strengthen proper allocation of funds in order to prevent fraud and abuse and to ensure that all children who attend a charter school receive sufficient education.

The bill is supported by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

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By Zach Jones

[email protected]

Specifically, the Charter School Accountability Act aims to:

Improve accountability by strengthening transparency and disclosure measures for charter schools.

It would require both independent financial audits and public disclosures about important financial information, like charter documents, performance agreements between the school and its authorizer, the school’s program and mission, student discipline policies and processes, and annual student and teacher attrition rates. The bill also requires disaggregated data on information on disciplinary actions, student recruitment, admission, and retention.

Increase state educational agencies’ charter school accountability measures.

The legislation would require that states have performance standards for charter school authorizers, data on charter school closures, denials of renewals, and canceled charters. States must also have the authority to suspend or revoke a charter school’s authorization based on poor performance or violating policies. Additionally, states must have clear conflict of interest laws for school employees and establish fiduciary duties for officers, directors, managers, and employees of charter schools.

Require charter schools to have parent and community buy-in.

The legislation would ensure charter schools solicit and consider input from parents and community members on how to implement and operate charter schools. This bill also requires that entities receiving federal funds submit plans and descriptions detailing community aand parent involvement in the planning, opening, and operation of charter schools. For traditional public schools applying to convert to charter school status, the bill requires that there is demonstrated support of the conversion by two-thirds of the families attending the school and two-thirds of the school staff. It also calls for charter school authorizers to provide impact statements and reports on the role charter schools have on the overall schools system and provide information on student enrollment trends.

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