State will take charter schools away from 21 sponsors slapped with "poor" ratings
These key officers of charter school oversight organizations had their groups groups rated by the state today. Clockwise from the upper left are Apryl Morin of the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, Peggy Young of the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, Stephanie Klupinski of the Cleveland school district and Lenny Schafer of the Ohio Council of Community Schools. (Plain Dealer staff)
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The state today slapped ratings of "poor" on 21 charter school oversight organizations, including the Cincinnati, Lorain and Youngstown school districts, starting the process of yanking away their oversight power.
All 21 are either school districts or county "education service centers," public agencies that consolidate services for multiple school districts and who sometimes help create and monitor charters.
The Cleveland school district, which oversees charter schools as part of its "portfolio" model of offering school choices, was rated as "ineffective." That was the most common rating and one that puts the district on a three-year deadline to improve or also lose charter oversight ability.
Stephanie Klupinski, who handles oversight for the district, said she hopes to appeal part of the score, which could bumo the district up to "effective" if successful. She said the state seems to have overlooked some of the documentation she submitted.
"We might be effective if we get the errors corrected," she said.
Five oversight agencies, known as "sponsors or authorizers, were rated as "effective," but none earned the highest possible rating of "exemplary."
None of the "poor" sponsors were non-profit groups like the St. Aloysius Orphanage orBuckeye Community Hope Foundation housing agency, that some consider to be non-educators and weak links in the state charter system. Some were even rated as "effective."
And most of the "poor" sponsors oversee just one or two schools, not dozens like some of the non-profits do.
"It's the folks that dabble in this with one or two schools, more than those that do a lot," said State Sen. Peggy Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee.
The oversight ratings are a key part of Ohio's plan to improve its $1 billion charter school industry that is the butt of national ridicule for low academic performance. By threatening to take away oversight power if sponsors do not do a good job, state officials hope to pressure them to improve their schools.
The sponsors are not to be confused with school leaders or management companies that can run charters - public schools that are privately-run. They are the groups that offer quality control on a school's plan and should shut down poor schools that can't improve.
"If we want a quality community (charter) school sector, we need quality sponsors," said State Superintendent Paolo Demaria.
The evaluations, he said, are an important "policy lever" to separate strong sponsors from poor ones and to help weaker ones improve.
But Peggy Young, head of the Ohio Association of Charter School Authorizers, said the ratings are unfair. Sponsors should have the same "safe harbor" from penalties that school districts have as Ohio shifts to new learning standards and state tests, she said.
She also noted that a third of the ratings is based on how well schools and sponsors comply with state law . That portion was mishandled by the state, she said, giving sponsors too little time to complete documentation.
"Just as the (state) report cards for the 2015-2016 school year released last month do not accurately reflect the quality of educational opportunities provided to Ohio's public school students, the results of the sponsor assessment do not State will take charter schools away from 21 sponsors slapped with "poor" ratings | cleveland.com: