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Ohio Gov. John Kasich Signs Bill Overhauling Charter School Regulations

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ohio-gov-john-kasich-charter-schools.jpgOhio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill over the weekend overhauling the state's charter-school law.

House Bill 2, which was passed by the legislature in early October, revamps the way the state regulates charter schools, which both anti- and pro-charter groups blame for corruption, financial mismanagement, and poor academic outcomes among some of the charter sector's schools.

"While we are proud of Ohio's high-performing charter schools, there are too many that haven't been serving our kids with the quality they deserve," Kasich said in a statement. "Making sure that our kids aren't stuck in failing schools has been a priority and this bill will profoundly benefit our children."

Kasich, a Republican, has been a strong supporter of the bipartisan push to retool the state's charter laws. He called on lawmakers to make it a priority following the release of a study from the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes (also known as CREDO) last December. That study found Ohio charter school students were making less academic progress than their traditional district school peers.

The new law requires in-depth financial and academic reporting from schools and management organizations, stops charter schools from switching authorizers—called sponsors in Ohio—to avoid getting shut down, and prohibits poorly rated sponsors from opening new schools, among other provisions.

But state lawmakers' success in finally passing the bipartisan bill has been somewhat eclipsed by an announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that it plans to give Ohio more than $70 million over the next five years to expand high-performing charter schools in the state. The money will come from a competitive federal grant called Charter Schools Program.

Some, including former and current lawmakers and the state's auditor, fear an infusion of cash at this time could exacerbate current problems.

"I would want to make sure our reforms are in place before we pour any more money into Ohio's charter schools," Ohio Rep. Kristina Roegner told me for a recent article I wrote this issue. (Roegner's a Republican from northeast Ohio and one of the co-sponsors of the bill.) "Once the reforms are in place, and we get the bad apples out, then by all means, let's grow it," she said.


Photo: Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, on Oct. 28, in Boulder, Colo. —Mark J. Terrill/AP

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