Monday, August 8, 2016

A Tale Of Two (Or Three) Davids:  The ECOT Goliath And Ohio’s Charter School Debacle

A Tale Of Two (Or Three) Davids:  The ECOT Goliath And Ohio’s Charter School Debacle:

A Tale Of Two (Or Three) Davids:  The ECOT Goliath And Ohio’s Charter School Debacle


Drip, drip, drip.
The steady stream of critical stories about the charter school Goliath named ECOT now is approaching a critical level, ready to create a flood in the GOP Statehouse and in the offices of the mega-giant’s lobbyists well before this year’s elections. If a Richard Nixon-type was somehow in command at this stage of the game and dealing with the proliferating ECOT mess, he would have called in the Plumbers and the renowned Haldeman and Erlichman firm to deal with the debacle.
No, the ECOT flood is not attributable to global warming, which Republicans don’t believe in, but nevertheless the water level around the Goliath is rising. Rapidly.
But wait. If there is a Goliath-type creature on the loose, doesn’t John Q. Public need a David to slay this foraging creature that feasts on more than $100 million from the state treasury, in addition to the other low-performing, politically connected charters that siphon off additional hundreds of millions annually in scarce public funds?
Interestingly enough, Ohio has not one but two public servants named David who could have made a difference in wounding the menacing ECOT, exposing other low-performing charters and their sponsors (or is the better word choice enablers) and otherwise protecting citizens from further harm.
It’s been a year since we saw the first David, Hansen by surname, who directed the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school office, leave under fire for data rigging. In administering his department, Hansen was responsible for generating the legally required sponsor evaluation system, but neglected to include all of the performance data of certain failing charter schools.
Even the right-wing Breitbart blog had some stinging observations about Hansen and his conflicted background as the head of the Office of Quality School Choice:
“Hansen, whose position was created in 2013 by (Gov. John) Kasich to oversee the expansion of charter schools in the state, told the Associated Press that the state law pertaining to the evaluation of Ohio’s charter schools was “not a model of clarity.”
 The controversy came at a time when Ohio’s charter schools were under significant scrutiny, with problems of attendance and accountability surrounding the schools that were billed as an alternative to public schools.
 And Hansen himself was not new to data rigging.
As Ohio Political blog Plunderbund reported, in 2009 — while Hansen was president of the Buckeye Institute — he was also caught manipulating data regarding Ohio’s charter schools, yet was still chosen to be school choice director in 2013. Many of the schools involved were owned and operated by for-profit company White Hat Management, which itself is owned by David Brennan, a big donor — through his family’s foundation — to the Buckeye Institute, to the Republican Party, and to Kasich’s campaign in Ohio.”
So the first David failed to protect the public from charter Goliaths and was apparently conflicted by his relationship to long-time benefactors in the charter industry. In addition, there is the matter of his wife, Beth Hansen, who served as Kasich’s chief-of-staff and campaign manager when the governor thought he could be a viable candidate for president. Could David Hansen’s problems be A Tale Of Two (Or Three) Davids:  The ECOT Goliath And Ohio’s Charter School Debacle:
 

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