Ohio Senator Pushes For Greater Accountability and Transparency in Charter School Operations

A lack of accountability and transparency are a key problem of charter schools in many states across the country, allowing them to made into centers of corporate profit above their mission as centers of education. That lack, and that profit drive, is what leads to abuses like charter schools that pay above-market rents to real estate companies connected to school executives. Sen. Sherrod Brown has a bill that would change that and other abuses. The Charter School Accountability Act would:

  • Improve accountability by strengthening transparency and disclosure measures for charter schools. It would require both independent financial audits and public disclosures about important financial information, like charter documents, performance agreements between the school and its authorizer, the school’s program and mission, student discipline policies and processes, and annual student and teacher attrition rates. The bill also requires disaggregated data on information on disciplinary actions, student recruitment, admission, and retention.

  • Increase state educational agencies’ charter school accountability measures. The legislation would require that states have performance standards for charter school authorizers, data on charter school closures, denials of renewals, and canceled charters. States must also have the authority to suspend or revoke a charter school’s authorization based on poor performance or violating policies. Additionally, states must have clear conflict of interest laws for school employees and establish fiduciary duties for officers, directors, managers, and employees of charter schools.

The bill would also require community buy-in "in the planning, opening, and operation of charter schools."

Since charter schools gain advantage over public schools by cutting corners and keeping secrets, if you support public education, you should support this bill. But if you support charter schools as educational institutions, you should also support this bill—in the interest of weeding out the bad actors. If you support charter schools as a way for private companies to profit from public education money, on the other hand, this bill is not for you.

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