Another charter-school gem from Ohio's budget bill

The insanity of the charter school provisions inserted by the Ohio House of Representatives into Ohio's pending budget bill will come as no surprise to Flypaper readers after Terry's post last Friday. Here's another gem tucked into HB 153 by House Republicans (new language inserted by the House is underlined):

Sec.??3314.04. Except as otherwise specified in this chapter and in the contract between a community school and a sponsor entered into under section 3314.08 of the Revised Code, such school is exempt from all state laws and rules pertaining to schools, school districts, and boards of education, except those laws and rules that grant certain rights to parents. No community school shall be required to comply with any education laws or rules or other requirements that are not specified in this chapter or in the contract entered into under section 3314.08 of the Revised Code that otherwise would not apply to a chartered nonpublic school.

In short, this provision states that charter schools (they're officially called ???community schools??? in the Buckeye State) will not have to comply with any education laws or rules that exist outside of chapter 3314 of the Ohio Revised Code (Ohio's charter school law), unless those laws also apply to the state's private schools.

What does that mean in practice? Will charters now be exempt from the Ohio Achievement Assessments, the state's accountability system, basic teacher licensure rules, and rules governing things like student attendance?

Yes, charter schools need autonomy and there are some silly yet expensive compliance requirements embedded in state law right now. But autonomy must be thoughtful and awarded only in exchange for accountability for performance. Provisions like this one will move Ohio's charter schools away from being privately run public schools to being publicly funded private schools with zero accountability to students, families, or taxpayers.

The Ohio House continues its work on HB 153 today and tomorrow. Let's hope they see the error of their ways and don't leave too big of a mess for their colleagues in the state Senate to clean up.

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