In western Ohio, we have some of the best teachers and families, who provide our students superior educational achievement. That’s why, every year, our public schools rank in the top when compared to the other schools in the state. For areas where that is not the case, it is important that families have access to other options.
Over the past couple decades, charter and community schools have played a very valuable role in educating our young people here in Ohio. They provide alternative options for parents and students, some of whom may be excellent learners, but just need to find an environment that best suits their needs and interests. I believe charter schools serve that purpose exceptionally.
However, there have also been some concerns that have come about in regards to the oversight and accountability of these schools. It was apparent that some reforms were needed in order both provide great educational opportunities for students, as well as make sure that taxpayers were getting the best value for their dollars.
Ohio’s charter schools provide a low-cost option for public school children that are struggling in their traditional schools. Many charter schools use state-of-the-art teaching methods and technology that improve student achievement when compared to other students in a similar situation at a public school. For those charter schools that are failing, it is important to provide clear expectations and increased transparency.
What resulted was House Bill 2, legislation that I supported and worked on along with my colleagues in the House since the beginning of this year. In a nutshell, what we did with House Bill 2 was increase the accountability on Ohio’s charter school system and make sure that expenditures of charter school sponsors are adequately reported. In the long run, we hope that these reforms will help us identify the schools that are deficient and give them the management tools to upgrade the way they are managing their schools.
We also improved oversight in the way we monitor the performance of these schools. Make no mistake, there are some excellent charter and community schools in Ohio that make an incredibly positive difference in the lives of kids and teenagers. But schools with poor academic performance have to be a priority so that we can help them improve or take other steps if necessary.
This all comes down to the kids, and that is one thing that can never get lost in the conversation about education. At the same time, the taxpayers deserve to know where and how their money is being spent. I believe that by increasing accountability measures on charter schools in Ohio, we can achieve the important goals of helping our children succeed.
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The writer represents the 84th District in the Ohio House of Representatives.