Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ohio Charter Schools Suck: GOP Lawmakers Still Love Them

Here in Ohio we are blessed, I tell you, with a governor and lawmaking body that love charter schools. Why? Because our representatives love children? Because charter schools do a better job, measured by standards mandated by that very same lawmaking body?

Nope. Try again.

Here are how regular public schools measured up, with charter schools listed separately, in this year's state report card:


Well, then, do our GOP representatives love charters because they devote more resources to helping kids who need help?

Fat chance.


As the chart above shows charters tend to pay school founders and school leaders well for their less-than-stellar efforts. And why not? Isn’t education about profits?

What? You say it’s not?

Someone probably needs to break the news to David Brennan. Here in Ohio and elsewhere Brennan operates White Hat, a charter school chain, with almost fifty franchises. No, I mean schools. 

Brennan cares about dollars. No, no, I mean kids. That’s why he has a $6 million mansion down in Naples, Florida. Ha, ha, because Brennan cares about living in lux…no, about kids. In fact, he loves kids so much he is willing to go out of his way and host fund-raising dinners down in Florida for Ohio hard-working GOP politicians.

Another neat White Hat trick, when, no, no...control your sarcasm...when schools to close them down and reopen them with cool new names, in the same buildings, with much the same staff, so that profits for Mr. Brennan are almost impossible to kill, kind of like zombies.

Kids. Sure. Brennan loves ‘em.

How to show this love? According to the Akron Beacon Journal this summer Brennan and his wife Ann contributed more than $3.8 million to fifty-one politicians between 2004 and 2012. Those who gained the most in these transactions?

Ohio’s school children.

Ha, ha! I’m joking!

Actually, the main beneficiaries included Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, the Republican Party—because no one loves kids more than the GOP (unless they need health insurance)—and, of course, good old Governor John Kasich, who never saw a fund-raising dollar within reach he didn’t want to grab.

It probably comes with his Wall Street background.

So, try again. Why do our leaders love charter schools?

Well, let’s just say they have 3.8 million reasons to love them—even if charter schools really, really, really, really suck.

You can’t say those  bought-and-paid-for legislators haven’t earned their money, though. When Brennan’s chief lobbyist sent lawmakers a list of changes his boss hoped to see in one school funding bill the Ohio General Assembly partially or fully implemented nine of eleven proposals Brennan had deemed “most important.”

As noted in a story by the Columbus Dispatch, Brennan did even more to help lawmakers do right by the children of the state: “Later, [his] lobbyists prepared actual legislative wording to carry out their requests. House staff members frequently checked with the lobbyists to make sure the evolving language and later amendments were acceptable.”

In fact, before you could click your ruby red slippers together three times and say, “Can I have some more campaign cash, please?” Tom Needles, White Hat’s chief lobbyist, was providing pre-written amendments to be included in the proposed legislation. 

Well, did it work—all this helping lawmakers—so that lawmakers could help Brennan—so  Brennan could help kids?

You bet it did. 

The Beacon Journal noted recently that under a new Ohio Senate proposal, charter schools in the state would see a $22 million increase in funding for this school year, even if enrollment did not change. 

Meanwhile most regular public schools—with less effective lobbyists—and less ready cash to dispense—were seeing cuts.

Hey, don’t worry, though. Here in Ohio the operators of charter schools…no, I mean, politicians…no, I mean, the school children...are doing great.


A variety of sources can be consulted to verify statistics show in the graphs, including this article from the Columbus Dispatch.

Even better, these grades do not include the 150 Ohio charter schools that have closed in recent years for financial or academic reasons.

See:  Innovation Ohio for original graphs, including the on administrative spending.


  1. Excellent article. This is spot on for Michigan too.

  2. Hey John, you should join the "Bad Ass Teacher Association" on facebook and post links to your blog. You'd have instant access to 25,000 teachers and other people interested in Education topics.

    1. Chris, I'm on there. Do me a favor and send this link to your teacher friends.

  3. What source are you using for the graphs? I 100% believe they are accurate, but I like to fact check/verify the source before reposting something myself. :) Thanks!

    1. Hey, Julie; I added sources to the post. Thanks for pointing that out.

      Even the Columbus Dispatch, no friend to the regular public schools, admits the charter experiment, so far, is pretty much a failure.

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  5. Does this include online charter schools as well? Any data on those?

    1. Online charter schools are even worse; I may get around to doing a post on those soon.

  6. When I reposted this link recently an employee of one White Hat school responded (asking to be listed anonymously):

    We went from a school who would crack down swiftly on bullying and gang activity (usually expulsion) to allowing students to not only openly and loudly advertise their gangs, bully publicly, sing, swear at and sexually harass fellow classmates up and down three halls, as well as swear at teachers and other staff with absolutely NO consequences. Mainly, I feel, because we need enrollment and our administrator is being pressured not to lose a single student. There is now no discipline to students (school uniforms? What school uniforms?) and our "safe environment" has gone by the wayside in order to enroll as many as possible. We used to laugh at other schools who would fudge their numbers and be unethical with their records. Until they made us do it too.