One of the key education stories of 2012 has come to a head this week.
At issue: Should Ohio be able to close down low-performing charter schools that serve students who have dropped out of traditional public schools? Those schools are called drop-out recovery charter schools and there are about 79 of them in Ohio.
“Regular” charter schools can be shut down by the state if student performance on state tests falls short year after year. A 2007 state law exempts drop-out recovery schools from that closure provision, which is sometimes called the “death penalty.”
Some lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich want to change that:
- Gov. Kasich’s last state budget called on the State Board of Education to create a way of measuring drop-out recovery schools’ performance, since the people who run the schools say it’s not fair to measure drop-out recovery schools by the same standards as other schools.
- The State Board of Education and the Ohio charter schools association drafted report-card systems just for drop-out recovery schools after a series of meetings with educators and policymakers. For example, passing rates on state tests could be evaluated differently for drop-out recovery schools than for Ohio’s regular schools.
- Gov. Kasich’s big education policy bill introduced in the Ohio Senate earlier this year would require the state to adopt the new drop-out recovery report card system and to start shutting down drop-out recovery schools that perform poorly year after year.
- The House Education Committee took the “death penalty” for drop-out recovery schools off the table, meaning drop-out recovery schools would be exempt from closure.
Now House Speaker William Batchelder’s spokesperson Mike Dittoe says he expects a new version of the bill to be ready to head to the governor’s desk later this week.
But it’s unclear whether the school closure provision will be in it. [Update: The parts about drop-out recovery school report cards and closure have been taken out of this particular bill. They'll be taken up in a separate piece of legislation. Stay tuned...]
House Education Committee Chair Gerald Stebleton has been working closely with the Senate, Kasich’s office and other “interested parties” to reach an agreement on the drop-out recovery charter school closure law, and on other parts of the bill, Dittoe says.
The House Education Committee is expected to vote the new bill out of committee tomorrow for consideration by the full House on Wednesday, Dittoe says. The bill would then head to the Senate.
Senate President President Tom Niehaus told Gongwer News Service that he expects to come to agreement on Kasich’s education bill (which includes a whole bunch of things besides this charter school closure policy) this week:
“We’ll see the bill when it comes back from the House. We’ll talk with them when they pass it and look to see about concurrence,” he said. “Everyone’s committed to working through the differences and getting it resolved so that next Wednesday is our last day here in Columbus.”
And the Fordham Institute’s Terry Ryan says there’s a reason the House has been reluctant this year to make dramatic changes like requiring the closure of of low-performing drop-out recovery schools:
Many House members are up for re-election in November. Republicans control the House by a 59-40 margin, which if things went poorly in November could surely be reduced. (Recall that Democrats controlled the House from 2009 to 2011.) The Senate (where Republicans dominate 23-10 and have run the place since the 1980s) can be less concerned about the November elections. The Governor doesn’t run again until 2014.