Tuesday, March 29, 2016

More Ohio Charter Fakery

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.

1 comment:

  1. "...it has enjoyed more and more success by marketing itself as school for students who don't really want to go to school."

    I assume that these kids who were excused "to go to work" were older, probably high school kids? Maybe we need to rethink the age limit at which we force kids to go to school? Maybe education should only be compulsory until 12 or 13? After all, after that, how do you force a kid to do anything anyway? And if they're not in the swing of it and wanting to go on their own by then, even if you manage to force them to go, you can't force them to cooperate and not disrupt things for other kids.

    I have a friend who went through a really ugly divorce from her increasingly abusive husband. Her son, age 14, was never much into school to begin with - academics weren't his thing, he was on the smaller side so he got bullied - but during and after the divorce he just refused to go. He was worried about his mother, he was too tightly wound to deal with the bullies, he wasn't interested in anything he was forced to learn. So what was she supposed to do about it? She tried talking, working it through, making accommodations, begging, pleading as well as the flip side of threatening and punishing. But he was determined he wasn't going to go. She ended up having to go to court repeatedly, was fined and was even threatened with losing custody of him (and her daughter, who was going to school) over the whole thing. All along she kept asking, "What do you think I can do about this?" but no one had any answers except to punish her for her kid's refusal. Who does it benefit to force a kid who doesn't want to go to school to go?

    Of course, the flip side of that is that I am strongly in favor of all sorts of alternative programs, GED programs, remedial programs, etc. for kids and young adults who mature and realize that they really do need some sort of education/training. But beyond the early teen years, education really has to be something a kid wants for him/herself (maybe even earlier than that).