Friday, June 23, 2017

Ohio State Superintendent Declines $22M of the Controversial $71M Fed Charter Grant | deutsch29

Ohio State Superintendent Declines $22M of the Controversial $71M Fed Charter Grant | deutsch29:

Ohio State Superintendent Declines $22M of the Controversial $71M Fed Charter Grant

The same week that Arne Duncan announced his upcoming exit from the office of US secretary of education in late 2015, his USDOE earmarked $249 million in charter school expansion grants, with the largest grant ($71 million) tagged for Ohio, a state with a highly questionable charter sector, as Jeff Bryant writes in October 2015 in Salon:
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s surprise announcement to leave his position in December is making headlines and driving lots of commentary, but an important story lost in the media clutter happened three days before he gave notice.
On that day, Duncan rattled the education policy world with news of a controversial grant of $249 million ($157 the first year) to the charter school industry. This announcement was controversial because, as The Washington Post reports, an audit by his department’s own inspector general found “that the agency has done a poor job of overseeing federal dollars sent to charter schools.”
Post reporter Lynsey Layton notes, “The agency’s inspector general issued a scathing report in 2012 that found deficiencies in how the department handled federal grants to charter schools between 2008 and 2011″ – in other words, during Duncan’s watch.
Even more perplexing is that the largest grant of $71 million ($32.5 the first year) is going to Ohio, the state that has the worst reputation for allowing low-performing charter schools to divert tax money away from educational purposes and do little to raise the achievement of students.
A number of Ohio officials were shocked by the news.
As a different article from The Post reports, Democratic Party Representative Tim Ryan “was alarmed” by the Education Department’s decision. Ryan called his state’s charter school sector “broken and dysfunctional.”
Ted Strickland, an ex-Governor and now Democratic candidate for a US Senate seat in Ohio, wrote Duncan a letter telling him to reconsider the Ohio grant. “Too many of Ohio’s charter schools are an embarrassment,” he states. Strickland quotes from a recent study showing charters in his state perform significantly worse than public schools. He points to a recent scandal in which the person in the state’s department of education responsible for oversight of charters had to resign because he was caught “rigging the books.”
Even Ohio Republicans are disturbed about Secretary Duncan’s generosity to charter schools in the Buckeye State. Like a parent who sees a visiting relative doling out chocolate bars to an already stimulated child, State Auditor Dave Yost quickly stated his concerns about the new charter school largesse to the media and his intention to track how the money is spent. Yost should know. An audit he conducted earlier this year found charter schools in the state misspend millions of tax dollars.
“Why is the Department rewarding this unacceptable behavior,” Strickland asked in his letter.
In response to the controversial $71 million grant, in October 2015, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and others wrote USDOE a letter asking for increased oversight for Ohio charters. In June 2016, Brown asked for even more oversight and was Ohio State Superintendent Declines $22M of the Controversial $71M Fed Charter Grant | deutsch29:

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