ABJ: Worst Charters Get Biggest Funding Boost in Budget

As we’ve noted here before, the newly-enacted state budget sends more taxpayer money to poor-performing charter schools at the expense of public schools and quality charters schools alike.

Yesterday, the Akron Beacon Journal took a closer look, speaking with operators and advocates for high-quality charter schools:

Not only will high-quality charters not get funding, but low-quality charters could get a boost. That can’t be right. No legislator in their right mind would get behind something like this,” said John Zitzner, president of Friends of Breakthrough Schools, the marketing and fundraising arm for Citizens Academy East and other top-performing charter schools.

Here’s the Ohio representative for Students First, a national reform-minded organization founded by Michelle Rhee:

Twenty years into the [national] charter movement there are no more excuses,” Harris said. “Our funding policies have to be reformed accordingly. And that is not reflected in this [state] budget.”

Financially rewarding the lowest performing schools undermines the entire movement, Harris said.

But that’s what the next two-year state budget would do. According to the article, of the state’s best charters will see a cut of nearly $1,000 per student, while the worst performing get an average per pupil increase of $276.

Overall, the advantages that poor-performing charters receive in this budget are striking:

Charter schools that received the lowest academic rating in 2012 would receive an average of $8,715 per student while the highest-ranked charters schools would get $6,762, a difference of nearly $2,000.

abj_charters

Student First’s Harris had this explanation for the disparity:

“A lot of times it has to do not with how well your school is performing but how well your lobbyist is paid,” he said.

He may be onto something. As we noted in our recent report, charter school operators William Lager and David Brennan have given, combined, nearly $1 million to political candidates in Ohio in the past four years.

We’re eager to see where this highly unprecedented and interesting development will lead.