Kasich appoints charter school advocate to school choice oversight post

Word has come down that David Hansen, former President of the ultra-conservative Buckeye Institute, will be overseeing Charter School and Voucher programs at the Ohio Department of Education.

Hansen, whose group made its name by publicly releasing the salaries of public employees — attempting to shame them, will be pulling down a cool $105,000. Couple that with his wife, Beth Hansen, who is Gov. John Kasich’s Chief of Staff, and the Hansens are now making $275,000 in taxpayer money.

We don’t expect the Buckeye Institute will be nearly as willing to point out the hypocrisy of an anti-public worker zealot making more than a quarter million dollars in taxpayer money.

As for the job, Hansen has a heavy lift ahead. On the latest Report Card, more than 41% of charter school grades were F. More than 60% of Charter School grades were D or F. Only 20% of their grades were A or B.

District grades were much better. Only 11% were F and 20% were D or F. Meanwhile, 53% of districts’ grades were A or B — about evenly split between both grades.

Hansen once wrote that “Parental choice in education offers the promise of improving public school systems by holding them accountable to market forces” while blaming teachers unions for hurting schools.

He also said that having the Ohio Department of Education run performance audits of schools was like “the fox guarding the hen house.” But a Charter School zealot like him overseeing Charter Schools is not, apparently.

Hansen also took Gov. Ted Strickland to task for wanting to get tough on Dropout Recovery schools, some of which graduate 1.2% of its children. “These schools put students back on a path to learning and future economic prosperity,” he wrote.

We fail to see how ensuring the continued operation of schools with 6.6% graduation rates, like big campaign contributor David Brennan’s Life Skills Centers, whose diplomas weren’t accepted by the military recently, is doing anything but making money for big campaign contributors

In the face of clear evidence that Ohio’s Charter School experiment is not working to such an extent that even Charter School advocates are blushing, what will Hansen do?

Is this is the guy who’s going to turn around the state’s abysmal Charter School performance? Or is he going to be the guy who makes excuses for their performance — excuses that he would ridicule public schools for making.