We've been here before. Back in January of 2015, the Columbus Dispatch reported that some charter schools in Ohio were reporting on and taking state tax money in payment for students who did not, technically, exist.
John Kasich's Ohio has been a veritable Wild West of education reform. It's a great place to open up a charter and close it right back down again, or to make a truckload of money providing "consulting" services. Most famously, Ohio is also the state that set aside an entire official government office just to handle faking charter success numbers in order to make the movement look successful, as well as mounting government moves to simply bushwack a public school system and rip the "public" right out of it.
So last Friday's news from the Columbus Dispatch should come as no surprise.
Turns out that an Akron cyber-charter has some 'splainin' to do about student "attendance."
Cyber-charter attendance, like cyber-charter homework and cyber-charter test-taking, is a nebulous thing that is not always super-clear. But the Akron Digital Academy had some problems that were plenty clear. For one, they gave students excused absences for weeks so that those students could work at jobs. Turns out "wanted to go work instead" is not recognized as a legit reason to play hooky. They also seem to have trouble counting the exact number of students with special needs (the ones for whom they get more money).
This comes on the heels of reports of yet another cyber-charter that scored almost a million extra dollars by counting students that it had no right to count.
There are students who are well served by cyber charters. But as the cyber charter industry has "matured," it has enjoyed more and more success by marketing itself as school for students who don't really want to go to school. It's only natural that such a market would appreciate a school that wasn't too strict on that whole attendance thing.
Add to this the research showing that cyber charters are bad, so very very bad, that even the biggest defenders and fans of the charter industry will no longer stand up for them and one wonders why any state allows them to operate at all outside of very strict and specific strictures. The need to clamp down on cyber charters should be obvious even in a state like Ohio, no matter how many invisible students they serve.