Feds request Ohio charter data

Following the suspension of additional charter school funding, the U.S. Department of Education has told the Ohio Department of Education that it must verify and provide information about its program. A letter from the federal director of the charter schools program stipulates ODE must provide:

  • A report summarizing the status of seven years’ worth of findings in all state-conducted charter school audits
  • A list of and corrections to any information in its grant application that is out-of-date, inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading
  • An explanation of changes to its process for reviewing charter-school authorizers and any additional systems to ensure integrity

Ohio has plans to use federal aid to provide grants of up to $700,000 to applicants seeking to open new charter schools. However, the USDOE suspended the funding and media coverage across the country has focused on the inaccuracies and questionable claims included in the state’s grant application, written by former Ohio school choice director David Hansen. His application claimed that the state had no “poor-performing” charters in the 2012-2013 school year, even though one-third of them didn’t meet a single standard on state report cards that year. He also omitted grades of failing online school, boosting their ratings.

State School Chief will step down

Richard Ross, 65, has announced, via the The Columbus Dispatch, that he will step down Dec. 31 after almost two years as Ohio’s public school superintendent. His announcement comes as the Ohio Department of Education continues to deal with revelations that David Hansen, who ran the charter school program, rigged school data to boost the schools’ ratings. Hansen, whose wife is Gov. John Kasich’s presidential  campaign manager, resigned. The U.S. Department of Education has temporarily halted administration of a $71 million Ohio charter school grant until ODE can assure it the dollars will be spent responsibly. The Ohio Education Association, Youngstown Board of Education, Youngstown Education Association and other education associations also recently filed a lawsuit against Ross, ODE and the State of Ohio to stop the scheduled state takeover of Youngstown City Schools.

Chicago teachers embattled over funding

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Chicago Teachers Union advised its members to prepare for a possible “protracted strike” next year, and the union was expected to take a practice strike vote. The union and Chicago Public Schools are reportedly threatening to strike in response over funding, as the $480 million of the CPS budget that comes from government assistance is still lacking. The paper reported that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged the Chicago Teachers Union not to strike, but rather to unite with Chicago Public School officials in a concerted effort to influence the state to disperse the pension assistance required to avoid layoffs.