Fordham’s Terry Ryan testifies in the Senate Finance Committee with high achieving charter school leaders

As the charter movement enters its third decade, it is imperative that policymakers and legislators understand the perspective of those schools that have succeeded in providing their students with a quality education. The charter sector in Ohio is often seen by those outside as a monolith – for better or worse – but Fordham has long known that there are both high-flyers and underachievers. As an organization that focuses on the availability of quality education for Ohio’s children, Fordham feels it is imperative that the lessons of the high-performing charter schools be known above and beyond the “charter sector” as a whole.

As a step in accomplishing this goal, Fordham’s own Terry Ryan has helped form a coalition of high performing charter schools to testify in front of the Senate Finance Committee’s Education Subcommittee. The schools in which these leaders work represent some of the best public schools that Ohio has to offer. While each leader is advocating for their school and telling the story of what success looks like in their cities, they also provide overarching policy recommendations that could help forward the expansion and replication of successful charters including:

  • Supporting the implementation of the Straight-A-Fund
  • Increasing the per pupil facilities funding to charter schools
  • Implementing tougher laws that would lead to the closure of failing charter schools

Below you will find links to the testimonies this coalition have turned in to the Subcommittee.

Andrew Boy, Founder & Executive Director at United Schools Network (USN)

School Profile: USN is a network of schools that currently serves students in Columbus through Columbus Collegiate Academy and Columbus Collegiate Academy West. In 2012, Columbus Collegiate Academy received an excellent rating from the state, making it only one of five schools to receive that distinction in the Columbus City Schools area.

School Leader: Andrew Boy is the founder and executive director of the United Schools Network where he hopes his schools can serve 1,200 students by 2018.

(Please click here to download Andrew Boy’s testimony)

Christopher O’Brien, Head of School at E Prep- Woodland Hills Campus

School Profile: E Prep- Woodland Hills Campus is a member of the Breakthrough Schools charter network. Serving K-3 and 5th-8th grade students, the schools was given an excellent rating by the Ohio Department of Education.

School Leader: Christopher O’Brien serves as the head of school at E Prep- Woodland Hills Campus. Before taking this position, Christopher O’Brien served as a 6th grade math teacher for Breakthrough’s flagship school E Prep-Cliffs.

(Please click here to download Christopher O’Brien’s testimony)

Judy Hennessey, Superintendent & CEO at Dayton Early College Academy (DECA)

School Profile: DECA is Ohio’s oldest early college high school which has expanded to serve students in 7th and 8th grade. Currently rated effective by the Ohio Department of Education, DECA was been named one of the five most innovative schools in the country by WestEd.

School Leader: Judy Hennessey is the superintendent and CEO of DECA. Prior to working at DECA, she was the superintendent at Oakwood City Schools for seven years.

(Please click here to download Judy Hennessey’s testimony)

Robert Kilo, Director of Advocacy and Major Gifts at Breakthrough Schools

School Profile: In a recent study by the Stanford University, Breakthrough Schools was ranked 1st among urban charter school networks in the nation for student growth in reading and 4th in growth in math. The network serves 97% minority students and 82% who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

School Leader: Robert Kilo is the director of advocacy and major gifts at Breakthrough Schools, advancing the discussion on education policy on the behalf of Breakthrough Schools.

(Please click here to download Robert Kilo’s testimony)

Hannah Powell, Executive Director at KIPP Central Ohio

School Profile: KIPP Central Ohio currently operates KIPP Journey Academy (KJA) in Columbus Ohio. Serving 90% of economically disadvantaged households, KJA has received an effective rating while outperforming Columbus City Schools. KJA has also been nationally recognized as an EPIC Award Winning Schools for its gains in urban education.

School Leader Bio: Hannah Powell is the executive director of KIPP Central Ohio where she is currently spearheading the expansion of KIPP schools in the region. Before leading KIPP Central Ohio, she served as the founding school leader for KJA.

(Please click here to download Hannah Powell’s testimony)

Greg Harris, Ohio Director at StudentsFirst

Joining this group in testimony is Greg Harris who serves as the Ohio Director for StudentsFirst, a national organization with nearly 70,000 members in Ohio. StudentsFirst stands with this coalition of high performing charter schools because they believe that quality choice options with strong accountability measures equals parent empowerment and a path to student achievement for the most vulnerable young people.

 (Please click here to download Greg Harris’s testimony)

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