Panelists detail what's wrong with charter schools


Charter schools are not accountable to taxpayers despite use of public money, and “high stakes” tests don’t give a true measure of education, a four-member panel asserted Monday.

The panel was Akron-Beacon Journal Managing Editor Doug Oplinger, who researched state funding for education and charter schools while he was a reporter; Sherry Tyson, assistant treasurer of Youngstown City Schools; Ronald J. Iarussi, superintendent of the Mahoning County Educational Services Center; and Randy Hoover, professor emeritus of Youngstown State University.

They spoke at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Youngstown. The forum was presented at the Union Baptist Church.

Though the panel went on to detail what members believe is wrong with charter schools, the League of Women Voters has no position one way or the other on them, said Barbara Brothers, league chairwoman.

What the league does want, she said, is a funding system for schools that is adequate, equitable and accountable to taxpayers.

When charter schools are run by for-profit organizations, panel members said, taxpayers cannot gain access to school records and can’t even attend meetings that would normally be open under the state’s public meetings and records laws.

Tax dollars follow the student out of a public school to a charter school, but that change doesn’t ensure a better education, they said.

Charter school boards are not accountable to any entity except the school’s management company, panel members noted.

Charter schools were exempted from standards public schools were expected to follow, said Oplinger, who covered education for 10 years for the Beacon-Journal.

“The state let [charter schools] open without textbooks or toilets,” he said.

Read more in Tuesday's Vindicator.

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