Ohio Governor joins 17 other governors in fighting federal charter school limits

By: - April 22, 2022 3:50 am

School lockers in a hallway. Getty Images.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is standing with nearly two dozen other governors in fighting against a proposed federal rule limiting charter school creation.

The new rule would be a change to the U.S. Department of Education Charter School Program, and would require charters to prove that a school district they want to join is “over-enrolled” and in need of a new school.

DeWine and Republican governors from Tennessee, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Texas, signed on to a letter asking for an extension to the comment period on the proposed rule change, a delay until the next fiscal year for any changes and removal of a “community impact analysis” requirement.

“We oppose any attempts by the federal government to act as a national charter school board, impose a top-down and one-size-fits-all approach, and undermine the authority of parents to choose the educational option best for their child,” the governors wrote in the letter to the Biden administration.

Charter schools are considered public schools in Ohio, but operate independently of public school districts, and are exempt from hiring and curriculum requirements asked of traditional public schools.

Ohio currently has more than 320 charter schools with more than 100,000 students enrolled in them.

DeWine’s office said in a statement that the new rule would focus on “the number of seats, rather than the number of high-quality seats,” and would fail to consider a parents’ decision for their child to “attend a school that meets their child’s unique needs.”

The governors pushed back on the argument that the rule change would prioritize equity in education, saying it would instead exacerbate inequities “by reducing federal support for high-quality choices available to millions of low-income families.”

As DeWine campaigns to be reelected, part of his list of accomplishments include expanding the eligibility to the private school voucher program EdChoice, which public school advocates say takes funding away from the public school system.

Education organizations in the state who have also been pushing for full funding of a public education overhaul called the “Fair School Funding Plan” support the federal change, and say it benefits public school students, instead of for-profit schools.

“For too long, for-profit charter schools have taken precious resources from our communities and the public schools that serve 90% of Ohio’s students,” said Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association. “Any school that receives public money must be held to the same standards as traditional public schools.”

Ohio Federation of Teachers president Melissa Cropper expressed disappointment in DeWine’s choice to sign on to the letter “arguing for less accountability, less oversight, and less community collaboration for charter schools.”

“We support the U.S. Department of Education’s actions to ensure that charters receiving federal public funds are accountable to the public,” Cropper said in a statement to the OCJ.



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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.