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Lawmakers Seek Regulations on Charter Schools' Use of Tax Dollars for Lobbying, Self-promotion

Legislation would ensure public money is used for students, classrooms and teachers
September 15, 2014
Democrat Newsroom

Press Release Poster

State Reps. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) and Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) held a press conference today outlining proposed legislation to protect Ohio students and taxpayer dollars. The lawmakers’ bill would prohibit for-profit public charter schools from using state funds for lobbying purposes or public relations activities.

Currently, for-profit charter schools, which received over $1 billion from the state last year, can use this state funding to pay for lobbying events, consulting costs and public relations campaigns. The bill proposed by the Democratic legislators today would prevent public charter schools from using state funding for these purposes.

“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, it is our responsibility as legislators to ensure that state funding is spent in a responsible manner,” said Rep. Foley. “The funding is sent to public schools for the purpose of educating Ohio students, not for lobbying luncheons or television commercials. While charter schools are certainly welcome to lobby legislators or organize supporters with outside funds, they should not subsidize these activities with tax dollars meant for students and teachers.”

The Democratic lawmakers also highlighted the low performance of for-profit charter schools in Ohio, pointing to recent school report card data that shows 62 percent of charter schools’ report card grades are a “D” or “F” according to an analysis by the policy think-tank Innovation Ohio. The state has closed several public charter schools in recent months due to underperformance and mismanagement.

“These public charter schools should me focusing more on providing a high-quality education to their students and less on generating revenue,” said Rep. Hagan. “If these for-profit charter schools were truly effective at teaching our kids, they wouldn’t need to spend money on advertisements or lobbyists. It is not the responsibility of Ohio taxpayers to foot the bill for their failures.” 

The announcement came ahead of Lorain’s Horizon Science Academy Lobby Day tomorrow at the Statehouse. The schools is funding a chartered bus, lunch and after-school childcare for the students of parents that make the trip to Columbus.

Reps. Foley and Hagan will be present at tomorrow’s 10:30 a.m. state school board meeting, where the lawmakers plan to testify following the Horizon School’s presentation.