Saturday, August 27, 2016

Obstruct And Delay: Ohio Legislature – Be Careful What You Wish For

Obstruct And Delay: Ohio Legislature – Be Careful What You Wish For:

Obstruct And Delay: Ohio Legislature – Be Careful What You Wish For

Readers might want to label this tale of Statehouse antics as just more of the same. On second thought, maybe it could be a reminder for being careful about what you wish for in life.
A state senator known for his aggressive style in questioning individuals at hearings acted as the “hired gun” for Republicans in a meeting on August 22 to review new charter school administrative rules prepared by the Ohio Department of Education.  He was not shy in flexing his muscles in the fight between Republicans and ODE over reforming the state’s scandal-ridden and poorly performing charters.
“I’m a trial lawyer. Don’t do that to me,”  said Sen. Bill Coley to Diane Lease, ODE’s chief legal counsel, who was representing the department in the hearing.
“At one point, Coley scolded the department for showing the “height of arrogance.” Yet, in a feat of irony, he left his charter friends off the hook, arguing: “I don’t see in there where the school sponsor has to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ on every school they sponsor.”
Before his admonition to the other counsel, Coley saw fit to transfer blame for some of the charter school administrative rule mess to the state education agency. Here is how the Akron Beacon Journal, in an editorial aptly calledScandalous at the Statehouse, described the low drama:
Is it arrogance when an attempt is made to develop some rules for the Wild Wild West, trying to clean up the hazardous but fabled Long Branch Saloonwhich is synonymous with the Ohio charter school system? We’re all not trial lawyers like the self-assured Coley, but a lot of us feel that charter authorizers, as they are called in the 43 other states that have legal provisions for these privately operated and publicly funded schools, should be held responsible for the schools they authorize. You can’t have it both ways.
Since authorizers collect 3% of the school’s gross state revenue, they need to be held accountable for every charter school under their purview. In fact, when public money is involved, the public needs to demand that every “i” and every “t” is dotted. If a sponsor doesn’t want to be held responsible, they need to get out of the authorizer business. In a world of no-excuses operations, trial lawyers of all people don’t need to make excuses for those who otherwise might want to soft-pedal the importance of accountability in the education of young people.
Here is one example. When I worked in the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school office, I was shocked, shocked by the poor quality of many of the contracts submitted for approval by the charter school sponsors. In my nearly four years there, I reviewed more than 100 charter contracts – a number probably higher than most trial lawyers in the legislature. After reading the first few pages, I found that many charter contracts were mere templates, cut and pasted together, and dumped in our offices by sponsors days or even hours before the annual deadline for new school agreements.
Incredibly, dozens were submitted devoid of page numbers and even footers at the bottom of the page to denote the authorizer, school, and date of submission.
The _______ School will offer a program that contains…… It will be the purpose of the ________ School to …
Several contracts, bearing evidence of being the archetype of template production by national charter school chains, contained page after page with Obstruct And Delay: Ohio Legislature – Be Careful What You Wish For:

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