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Charter schools must be held accountable too

June 9, 2011
Salem News

Charter schools can be valuable alternatives to public education. But there need to be limits on the idea of allowing them to operate without complying with the same rules and regulations that often hamper public schools.

If charter schools are not providing quality education for children, they should not be subsidized by taxpayers. It's that simple - but one big charter school operator in Ohio doesn't seem to agree.

More than 30 charter schools in the Buckeye State are operated by a single company, White Hat Management. Reportedly, the company's owner requested several amendments be added to the Ohio House of Representatives version of the state budget.

One amendment would ban the state from putting charter schools on probation or suspending them entirely for several reasons. Among them are violations of the law, fiscal mismanagement - and "poor student performance," according to The Columbus Dispatch.

That is outrageous. Public schools and their officials can face serious state sanctions for all those reasons. Giving charter schools a pass would be counterproductive, if the idea of subsidizing them is to provide better education opportunities for Ohioans.

If a charter school or the company managing it is failing to provide quality education, by the same definitions the state uses for public education, it should not be allowed to go its merry way without consequences.

Should charter schools be held to a higher standard than public education? No. But should they be permitted to take taxpayer subsidies while providing substandard services? Absolutely not.

Ohio House members should review budget amendments requested by White Hat Management's owner. If they provide improper breaks, they should be stricken.

And if the House goes ahead and approves them, state senators should refuse to go along.

Again, giving charter schools flexibility is one thing. Allowing them to get away with the education equivalent of murder is another.



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