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Panelists detail what's wrong with charter schools

Published: Mon, April 28, 2014 @ 10:27 p.m.


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.


1liberty22(16 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

With its decision to exclude charter school representatives, the League of Women Voters fostered myths and falsehoods that only misinform and divide our area's educational landscape.

Last night's partisan dais failed to address one main point and one main question.

The main point is that IT IS NOT THE DISTRICT's MONEY------IT's THE STUDENT's MONEY, and it follows the student, via the choice of the parent. The parent has the choice/right to pull their child from an academically challenged building. It's the law.

When area superintendents, many hypocritically having "Open Enrollment Policies," allowing adjacent district students to attend their schools, stated that charter schools are "stealing their funding," they are greatly promoting an absolute misrepresentation.

The presenters failed to mention that many city students have spent nearly their entire academic careers in buildings graded at "Academic Watch and Academic Emergency." How fair is this to a parent, economically bound to a poor performing district? The presenters would require parents to keep their children in low achieving buildings.

Many of the evening's presenters received funding to attend college. How would they have felt if given funding but required to attend a college not to their liking or deficient in their choice of major?

As the law was constructed, charter schools have MORE accountability than traditional schools. Charter schools report attendance figures on a monthly basis, traditional districts report it once a year, often negating constructive student attendance measures. The attendance "scrubbing" scandals, plaguing many traditional school districts, could never happen in charter schools.

After three years, poor performing charter schools are closed, as they should be. Under similar criteria, the Youngstown Schools would have been closed 30 years ago. Fiscal issues cause consistent state supervision of the Youngstown district. Why does the city district get a perpetual pass for decades of dismal academic and fiscal performance? The city district, not charter schools, should be labeled as unaccountable.

The presenters offered a skewed comparison of charter schools. Charter schools should be compared to the home districts they service.

Stambaugh Academy, Horizon Youngstown, and the Youngstown Community School consistently out perform their Youngstown district counterparts.


Instead of throwing the stone, districts need to reexamine their academic and fiscal policies, while working with charter schools for the benefit of city students.

Last night's "rally" had one purpose, to perpetuate a lack of parental choice and school competition, while preserving the self-centered interests of the participants.

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2jacksplace(1 comment)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

sadly liberty22, it is obvious that you did not attend the meeting or you would not continue to propagate the false assertions, wrong facts and propaganda in your post. Also, all corporations that represent the charter schools were contacted and asked to attend and refused. Perhaps being called on the carpet to be accountable for all the money they have taken with extremely poor test results was too much to bear.

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3liberty22(16 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

With academic shortcomings such as yearly district gradings of Academic Watch/Emergency and poor graduation rates, coupled with fiscal incapabilities (perpetual state supervision of their budget) and the squandering of millions and millions of dollars to construct the vacant Volney Rogers building, with most relevance, ask a taxpayer/parent of any child at The Youngstown Community School, Horizon Youngstown, or Stambaugh Academy, if he/she would return to the unaccountable district.

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4liberty22(16 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

There is no joy in mentioning the shortcomings of the city district. These failings have a rippling effect upon the most needy portions of our city neighborhoods. They hinder the current economic revitalization of our area.

It's ironic that generations of poor performance by urban districts, such as Youngstown, were the impetus for charter school introduction into the State of Ohio, via legislation in 1997.

The law was constructed to give parents a choice and promote constructive competition.

Many city parents, unable to move to affluent suburban districts, or unable to afford tuition at successful parochial schools, were unfairly left without any viable choice for their children.

Sadly, many charter schools surpass their district counterparts within only a few years of operation.

Sister Mary Dunn, and the Youngstown Community School, has waiting lists for enrollment.

Horizon Youngstown, in its first year of operation, had a better school report card than adjacent city elementary buildings, and currently outpaces even most suburban districts in Value-Added measures.

The ones that don't, such as Eagle heights, are rightfully closed.

There are inequities.

Traditional schools may request a levy to offset building and operational costs. Charter Schools do not operate with a levy, and are often required to refurbish existing buildings.

Per pupil funding for most charter school students is approximately $7500 per year, while their Youngstown City counterparts receive nearly $15,000 per year, one of the highest in the state.

There are many problems that plague traditional districts and charter schools.

We need to embrace the successes of both schools, while jointly and constructively addressing their shortcomings.

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