Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Outrage missing from the charter school schemes

Where's the outrage?  

After all of the teasing talk by Gov.Kasich and state lawmakers that reforms for charter schools are on the way for the $1 billion tax-funded industry, the Ohio legislative class merely kicked the idea down the road until September at the earliest and left town for  summer fun.  Meantime Kasich scheduled more out-of-state visits  for his presidential candidacy that he will officially announce on July 21, thus giving convenient  reason to return to his home state.

As Innovation Ohio  reported:  "After months of bipartisan momentum to improve Ohio's nationally ridiculed charter school laws, the Ohio House left for the summer without acting  on House Bill 2.  This means that charter schools will receive nearly $1 billion in state funding in at least  another entire school year."

Where's the outrage?

Where are the first signs of protests at the Statehouse door that $1 billion in taxpayer money will again be granted to the faltering charter system that has been embarrassing to Buckeyeland around the country?

Taxpayers have been conveniently excluded from the business-as-usual moments by budget arrangers who skillfully created a state budget for public schools with a formula that  few  without  doctorates can understand. And the state's media have done a modest  job in trying to explain the taxpayer  stakes in the opaquely distributed revenue for charters that is bleeding the budgets of public schools.

For evidence, the Beacon Journal today editorialized at length  complaining that "the new state budget doesn't include the better funding formula."  So far, so good.  But nowhere does the mysterious word "charter" appear.

Yes, school funding is complicated.  It's costly.  It's never had top priority in the legislative halls from the hacks and 10 o'clock scholars.  Instead, the governor boasts with vacuous self-approval of his Ohio Miracle and now, a New Day for Ohio. New about what?

It's hard to be outraged when a billion dollar industry is  swathed in unintelligible language for its politically disguised accounting system  infused with  dizzying numbers.

Mark Urycki, a reporter for StateimpactOhio, a consortium of WKSU, WOSU and WCPN, courageously  explored the density of the problem of such funding.  He reports that charters are more than an inheritor of  the revenues that are stripped from public school districts.

''But because charter schools on average are assigned more state aid than traditional public schools,  districts have to dip into their local levy money to give charters what the state demands". Right! For  the 370 charter schools with about 125, 000 students.

As a I've written in an earlier column, you must contend with  the powerful charter  guy who founded White Hat Management as a for-profit  investment in school kids, and then writing to lawmakers to remind them of where some of their political cash is coming from.  Legislative hacks don't need much more convincing to  discourage them from leaning on the  state's horrific giveaway of your money.

Where's the outrage?  You know, the kind you might hear from a neighbor who is reacting to a cost overrun on a street repair.

Kasich has talked of more transparency of the money spent.  But if you asked him in  the middle of  a campaign stop, he'd have a hard time  explaining what he meant.  He leaves the gritty work to others.  For example, in 2013 he appointed a pro-charter fellow named David Hansen, the ex-president of the right-wing Buckeye Institute,  and husband of Kasich's chief of staff, to oversee   charter school and voucher programs in the Ohio Department of Education. Sort of like the fox guarding the chicken coop, don't you think?

First things first for the governor and Republican legislature. That takes care of any  threat from the public outrage thing. Unfortunately, it has been fail-safe.

(Reposted from Plunderbund)

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