July 28, 2015

Ohio’s Troubling Achievement Gap: Charter Schools Make it Worse

classroom2Late last week, the White House put out a report breaking down the state of the American student achievement gap and the news wasn’t great for Ohio. In reading, we had the nation’s ninth highest gap between our highest and lowest performing schools. In math, we had the nation’s second-highest gap, and in graduation rates we had the nation’s fourth largest gap. And while much of this difference can be explained by the relatively high performance of our highest performing schools, the gap is and should be a serious concern for Ohio’s educators, parents and policy makers.

However, what the data used in the report also show is this: Ohio’s charter schools have made the gap worse, not better, because they make up a disproportionate share of the worst performing schools, as measured by the federal data used in the White House report (see “About the Analysis” below).

For example:

  • Despite making up 8% of all Ohio school buildings, charters represent 31% of the worst-performing reading buildings, 13% of the worst-performing math buildings, and 78% of the buildings with the worst graduation rates.
  • Ohio’s achievement gap is 6% bigger in math, 8% bigger in reading and a whopping 23% bigger in graduation rates than they would be if the analysis only included local public schools.
  • And while the state’s achievement gap is still too large, in all three cases, eliminating charters from the calculation drops Ohio’s achievement gap ranking. Math drops from second to fourth greatest. Reading falls from ninth to 11th And the state’s graduation rate gap tumbles from fourth to 14th highest.
  • The achievement gap is greater in charter schools for math than it is in the local public schools
  • The charter school achievement gap is narrower in reading and graduation rates because charters’ highest performers are so low performing overall compared with local public schools. For example, the average graduation rate for the 19 highest-performing charters – defined as those that have greater than 60% graduation rates  (see “About the Analysis” below)– is 65%. Those 19 charters represent 17% of eligible charters. The average rate for the highest performing local schools – 96% of which have graduation rates greater than the 60% threshold – is 91%.

[Read more…]

Please Join us For a Fundraising Reception

We hope you’ll join us to support the work of Innovation Ohio Women’s Watch Initiative 

Now is more important than ever to support the work of our Women’s Watch Initiative as we work to push back against extreme legislation that is harmful to women.  We hope that you will stand with us as we continue our efforts to advocate for the rights and equality of Ohio’s women.


To Erin Ryan at (440) 382-2900

Please make your check payable to and mail to:
Innovation Ohio Education Fund | 35 E. Gay Street, Suite 260, Columbus, OH 43215

Please send an email to ryan@innovationohio.org let us know you will be attending
and click here to submit your contribution online.

Senator Portman Must Reconsider ‘Yes’ Vote on TPP Fast Track


As the US Senate passes a bill allowing for fast tract authority on the controversial trade deal titled the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), Ohio finds itself, once again, on the brink of possibly damaging economic consequences. The TPP is a free trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim nations and is said to offer opportunities for economic growth in America and strategic leadership in Asia.

Republicans like Rob Portman hope to force the deal through to the President’s desk this week but have failed to mention its possible harmful ramifications for states like Ohio. Instead, Mr. Portman chooses to focus on campaign donations from pro-trade lobbies. Preceding the May 23rd vote to fast track TPP, Senator Portman claimed almost $120,000 in campaign donations from the US Business Coalition for TPP.

One only need to look back at the consequences of past free trade agreements to realize that the damage that future deals could cause for Ohio and America’s hard working middle class families far supersedes collections of campaign financing.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, played a significant part in the loss of 323,308 manufacturing jobs in Ohio and nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs nationally. Furthermore, private sector manufacturing jobs in Ohio have declined from 23.4 percent to 14.9 percent in the NAFTA era.

Remaining manufacturing jobs and other similar paying positions were subject to trends of wage suppression. A report from the Economic Policy Institute suggests that increased free trade from NAFTA like deals has suppressed the wages of non-college educated workers around $1,800. Free trade has similar effects on small family farms with 12,000 small-scale farms going out of business since NAFTA’s implementation.

Consequences such as these cannot be ignored and our representatives in Washington D.C. must strive to acquire a better deal for middle class Americans.

While we can’t avoid international trade and the modern global economy, representatives like Mr. Portman must work harder to negotiate trade deals that do not crush middle class Americans instead of working to please pro-trade campaign donors. We therefore encourage Mr. Portman to revoke his support for the TPP and consider the ramifications of increased free trade on middle class America.

In Final Weeks, Ohio Lawmakers Rush to Pass Laws Impacting Women

statehouse_FB cropIt’s the last full week of business for the Ohio General Assembly before legislators adjourn for the summer, and lawmakers are busily working to pass a number of measures that would impact women.

Closing Abortion Clinics – In what is becoming a ritual every two years, amendments were added to the state budget (House Bill 64) that would make it even more difficult to obtain a legal abortion in Ohio. One provision requires clinics to have written agreements with private hospitals within 30 miles, clearly aimed at closing Toledo’s last remaining clinic whose agreement is with a hospital in Ann Arbor, approximately 50 miles away. Another, which could have the effect of closing the only clinics in Dayton and Cincinnati, states that the state Health Department must deny after 60 days any request to waive certain requirements to operate. The first amendment was stripped from the bill in a deal brokered by Democratic Senator Sandra Williams, but the latter remains in the bill. [Read more…]

GOP using the budget to help campaign contributors?

The Ohio Statehouse is located in the capital of Columbus.

The Senate majority included a mysterious little change to campaign finance law in their version of the state operating budget (Amd. Sub. HB 64).

It appears that this change would make it easier for organizations like the Ohio Chamber of Commerce to contribute to political campaigns. Here’s the proposed change:

R.C. 3599.03 – Allows a nonprofit corporation that is a tax exempt business organization to transfer contributions received as part of regular dues payments from its unincorporated member businesses to its political action committee (PAC). Requires the PAC to itemize those contributions and allocate them to individuals in its campaign finance filings.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce PAC, of course, is one of the most generous campaign contributors to Ohio Republicans. Since 2011, they gave over $71,000 to Ohio legislative and judicial candidates.

The implications of this proposed change are not entirely clear yet, but what is clear is that this would make it a little easier for the Senate Republicans to collect campaign contributions.

Tell Lawmakers to Pass Meaningful Charter Reform

Ohio charter schools have cost taxpayers and local schools millions and have only resulted in substandard results for our children. The state legislature has yet to pass real reform, and plans to break for summer on June 30.

2Sign our petition asking lawmakers to pass legislation now.

Even charter school supporters recognize that reform is needed to protect our kids from a poor education and our tax dollars from misuse. Nearly every major newspaper throughout Ohio has called for reform:

“The state legislature must eliminate the poor oversight and lax rules for Ohio’s troubled charter schools.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jan. 2, 2015
“Lawmakers have solid evidence that current charter-school law is broken, and credible suggestions for how to fix it.” 

“In too many cases, charter schools in low-income communities perform worse than traditional public schools that serve the same neighborhoods and promote themselves deceptively to parents.”

“Currently, the management companies often have the upper hand, to the detriment of effective oversight.”
But this isn’t enough. We need your voice to ensure that the state legislature acts. Will you sign our petition? Click here to add your name.

Ohio may be first state to deny pregnant women healthcare

Governor Kasich may become the first elected official in the nation to eliminate healthcare coverage for low-income pregnant women since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Beginning in 2014, the law made millions of low-income Americans eligible for healthcare through Medicaid, and, as a result, over 450,000 more Ohioans now have coverage. 43 states expanded Medicaid eligibility to low-income pregnant women in 2014. But pregnant women in Ohio didn’t have to wait for expansion to see their coverage options increase. In 2007, the state, under then-Governor Strickland, expanded eligibility for pregnant women making up to 200 percent of the poverty level.


Now, Kasich is proposing to reduce that to 138 percent, forcing thousands of low-income women to go without coverage or purchase it on the private market. But monthly premiums and cost-sharing can make private coverage unaffordable for many women, and short enrollment periods can mean women can go months of their pregnancies without coverage.

At least five other states have made moves to reduce eligibility for the program since 2013, but none have ultimately enacted policies that made women ineligible for healthcare during pregnancy. Ohio may be the first.

Beginning in 2014, Louisiana and Oklahoma lowered the income level for women to be enrolled in Medicaid. But, in part due to the fact that women who become pregnant outside of the 3-month open enrollment period will be unable to purchase insurance on their own, the states moved these women into children’s healthcare programs instead. As a result, women will see their unborn babies benefit from prenatal care, while losing coverage themselves after childbirth.

Proposals this year in North Carolina and Maryland to reduce eligibility for pregnant women were defeated in the wake of widespread opposition among healthcare advocates and legislators, many of whom noted the plan would reduce prenatal care and undermine recent improvements in both states’ infant mortality rates. Access to prenatal medical care is directly linked to infant survival.

Currently, Ohio and Connecticut are the only states where cutting Medicaid for pregnant women remains in play. In Connecticut, Governor Malloy’s proposal was removed from the legislation by the Appropriations committee, but final negotiations are ongoing. In Ohio, the House retained Kasich’s proposal and the cuts remain in the bill as pending before the Senate.

Ohio is one of the worst states in the nation for infant mortality, ranking 43rd, ahead of only Oklahoma, Delaware, South Carolina, Louisiana, South Dakota, Mississippi and Alabama in the rate of infant deaths. The state’s rate of infant deaths is significantly higher than the nation as a whole, and is only slightly below where it was a decade ago. Governor Kasich has made infant mortality a centerpiece of his administration’s priorities. Eliminating a vital source of healthcare for low-income women, many of whom will be ineligible or unable to purchase insurance on their own, is contrary to this goal and won’t help the state’s women and babies.

Boston Passes the City’s First Ever Paid Parental Leave Policy

In our recently released Paid Parental Leave Report, we detailed the state of paid leave in our country,  outlined the benefits of PPL, and described policies implemented within cities, states, and private sector companies.  The report highlights that fact that the U.S. is the only developed country in the world without a guaranteed paid family leave policy.

Gains in paid family leave have largely been achieved through laws implemented within individual states and municipalities.  On May 18th, Boston joined the handful of U.S. cities that have passed such policies.  The ordinance, which was originally proposed by Councilors Michelle Wu, Tim McCarthy, and Tito Jackson, was signed into law by Mayor Walsh as the city’s first ever Paid Parental Leave Policy.


In a press release from the Mayor’s office, Walsh stated that passing this policy “is not only the right thing to do but it is important to the vitality and economy of our city. The benefits of this policy to both individuals and organization are a win-win and it is my hope that businesses will follow our lead and extend this benefit to their employees.”

The policy allows City of Boston employees (male and female, as well as same-sex couples) who have worked for the City for at least one year, to take up to six weeks of Paid Parental Leave during a 12-month period following the birth or adoption of a child/children.  Pay during the period of leave is structured to provide 100 percent during the first two weeks, 75 percent during the third and fourth week, and 50 percent for weeks five and six.

Read Innovation Ohio’s Report: “The Benefits of Paid Parental Leave”  

E-Schools: Ohio’s Baddest Apples


With recent revelations that one of Ohio’s largest online charter schools (or “E-Schools”) – the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) – was apparently paid for students who should have been dis-enrolled for chronic absence, it is important to examine how Ohio’s E-Schools are a significant drain on the state’s education dollar and account for many of the problems that plague Ohio’s poor-performing charter schools.

Four years ago, Innovation Ohio authored a look at Ohio’s E-Schools and found that the state was grossly overpaying these schools, while their operators provided huge campaign contributions to Ohio lawmakers. Since that time, while some E-Schools have seen slight performance improvements, the situation has gotten worse because now 10,000 more students attend and an additional $70 million are being spent on schools that, on average, graduate barely 35% of their students.

Our latest report, published on KnowYourCharter.com by the Ohio Charter School Accountability Project, shows emphatically that Ohio’s E-Schools are a significant contributor to Ohio’s overall poor charter school performance.

  • More than half of the money going from better performing Ohio school districts to worse performing charters goes to 6 statewide E-Schools
  • 98% of all the children attending charters that performed worse than their feeder districts on all the state’s report card measures went to the same six statewide Ohio E-Schools – at a cost of $72 million
  • Local Ohio taxpayers have had to subsidize $104 million of the cost of Ohio E-Schools because students in E-Schools receive so much more per pupil funding from the state than would their local public school.

Several provisions in Senate Bill 148 – currently before the Ohio Senate – would address some of the most pressing accountability needs in the E-School sector. However, they do not address the most glaring need – the need to reform how the state pays for its E-Schools.

Read the report: “E-Schools: Ohio’s Baddest Apples

Review Finds Women Not Getting Coverage Required by ACA

Women may not be getting the health coverage they were guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report by by the National Women’s Law Center, and the Obama administration has warned carriers that the practice must stop.

The April report outlined numerous violations by insurers in 15 states, including Ohio, which included excluding dependents from maternity care, limits on breastfeeding services and a failure to provide preventive services and contraception without co-pays or deductibles.


Late last month, I joined a panel on Capitol Hill to discuss Innovation Ohio’s partnership with NWLC to address shortcomings in plans offered in Ohio in 2014. Our work led to multiple plans modifying their policies for 2015, but the report found that, despite our work, many violations of the law can still be found in policies sold on the Ohio exchange.

The Ohio Department of Insurance, the state agency charged with reviewing and certifying plans for sale on the health exchange and that is headed by Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, was notified of the violations but did not respond.

tilesThe report was covered by the New York Times, National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Following the report’s release, the Obama administration has issued new guidance to insurance carriers that they must cover all FDA-approved forms of contraception without co-pays or deductibles and provide other preventive services to women without cost-sharing.

A report on the coverage of women’s health services by Ohio insurers, including the results of a second review of plans offered in 2015, will be released in the coming weeks.