Charters outperform (and for less)

Charters outperform (and for less)

The Vindicator’s May 21 ed- itorial, “Added scrutiny of charter schools in city and state is overdue, but finally coming,” fails to explain what is meant by “added scrutiny.” It appears that the article is written to merely denigrate charters. You write: “According to state report cards, students in many charter schools perform as poorly or more poorly than their public school counterparts. Among Youngstown’s dozen community schools, one-half continue to occupy the lowest rung.”

Nine of the 13 charter schools in Youngstown score below the Youngstown District’s performance index of 76. However, six of these nine “poor performing” charter schools serve students who have previously dropped out or are at risk of dropping out or have special learning needs (typically Autism or Asperger’s syndrome). When these schools are removed from the comparison, six of the seven bottom scoring schools in Youngstown are district schools. Three of the lowest performing Youngstown charter schools outscore these six low performing district schools. And, every one of the eight virtual charter schools with Youngstown students has a performance index score higher than the district.

If you want to provide a fair assessment about “taxpayers’ money spent on inadequate academic results” you might acknowledge that Youngstown City Schools receives one of the highest funding amounts in the state at $15,896 in average state and local revenue per student. Youngstown charter schools receive half this amount, with an average $8,000 per student revenue. Concerned taxpayers ought to know that Youngstown Community School (the highest performing elementary school in Youngstown, with a performance index of 106.3), Stambaugh Charter Academy (88.6) and Horizon Science Academy at Youngstown (85) are getting half the funds, per student, as the district, and much better results.

Charter schools are not “whining” about any increase in standards. What we are concerned about is unequal treatment of our students. The proposed budget bill — which provides just 25 percent of targeted assistance aid to charter students — will further increase the funding gap between districts and charters. We all should be advocating for increased access to high quality education for a greater number of students, and for providing fair and adequate funding to those schools that are serving students well, regardless if they are charter or district schools.

Marianne Lombardo, Columbus

The writer is vice president, research & accountability, for the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools.