by Austin Yack
A federal grant has met with strong—and undeserved—opposition. Charter schools have grown exponentially in recent years, with nationwide enrollment more than tripling between 2004 and 2014. The publicly funded but privately run institutions have a mixed record, but overall they have proven to be a viable alternative to the current failing public-education system. Partly owing to this success, teachers’ unions and their political supporters remain adamantly opposed to charters (which typically do not have unions), and they are eager to pounce on any chance to discredit them.
A controversy over a $71 million federal grant to the state of Ohio to fund charter schools has become the latest bone of contention in this dispute. When the Department of Education announced its competitive charter-school grants last fall, the news that Ohio had won the largest share of the $249 million awarded to eight states faced an immediate backlash. Ohio, critics said, had been a poster child for everything that can go wrong with charters – from misspent funds to failing schools. Ohio Democratic senator Sherrod Brown called on the Obama administration to take another look at Ohio’s programs before releasing the grant money. This month, the administration announced that Ohio would get the funds, with some strings attached. The news was met with scathing media reports........Read more