If You Like Your Charter School, You Can Keep Your Charter School – Richard Cordray Plan Would Destroy School Choice

Ohio Democrat Governor’s candidate Rich Cordray released his education plan this week and it was really, really bad. In fact, the only way to make the plan any worse would be if Rich Cordray stood up and announced that “if you like your charter school, you can keep your charter school.”

First off, Rich Cordray, playing to his financial benefactors in the government run schools establishment, proposes to abolish “for profit charter schools.”  Rich Cordray has been endorsed by teacher’s unions in Ohio.

Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that there are no actual “for profit charter schools” in Ohio. What Cordray is apparently saying is that he wants to abolish the ability of charter school boards to contract with a “for profit” company for services.

Setting aside the constitutionality of such a plan, this idea is bad for other reasons too. When charter schools start up in Ohio, they don’t have a big pot of money to work with. In fact, they don’t receive any money from the State of Ohio until the school is up and running and has students in their seats.

So how do they build and/or lease buildings, hire teachers and staff, and purchase equipment and supplies before then? Simple. They borrow the money from “for profit” financing and/or operating companies. This money is then paid back over a number of years from the school’s state operating funds.

Starting a brand-new charter school is not only risky, its expensive. That’s why most charter school boards end up contracting with large, well-funded companies with lots of experience in the education field. Eliminating a charter school board’s ability to do so would put many, if not most, out of business.

Next, Rich Cordray proposes to require that charter schools follow the same rules and requirements that are mandated for traditional public schools. Rich Cordray points to 140 requirements from which charter schools in Ohio are currently exempt.

Charter schools were established specifically to be exempt from these mandates in order to allow different education models to experiment and flourish. If they are required to be carbon copies of traditional, public schools, then why have them at all?

The Ohio Star asked Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, Republican candidate for Lt. Governor what he thought about this plan. He stated that “while the DeWine Husted campaign has a plan to make charter schools, especially online schools, more accountable, Rich Cordray seems to want to just shut them down.”

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Scott Pullins is an attorney, charter school board member, and a regular contributor for The Ohio Star.








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