State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today wrote to the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan to request that Ohio not be awarded any federal grant money for charter schools. The Toledo lawmaker says she has learned that Ohio’s top education officials have applied for federal money through the Charter Schools Program for State Educational Agencies to boost funding for Ohio’s failing charter schools. Fedor cited the lack of adequate state regulations and minimum standards for charter schools-- in addition to recent violations of state law by top education officials --as reasons why Ohio should not qualify for federal charter school dollars.
“Due to the abysmal lack of regulations for charter schools in Ohio as well as the failed, unaccountable leadership of the state superintendent, I do not believe that the Ohio Department of Education should be considered an eligible applicant nor awarded any charter-related funding at this time,” wrote Fedor in her letter.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Charter Schools Program is a competitive grant program that provides financial assistance to State Educational Agencies (SEAs). The federal grant money is intended to support planning, program design, and initial implementation of new charter schools as well as to promote best charter school practices. Ohio has previously been awarded grant funding in 2001, 2004, and 2007, for a combined total of over $185 million.
Rep. Fedor had previously called for the resignation of the state superintendent after revelations that top Education Department officials illegally manipulated a key evaluation of charter school oversight agencies by omitting failing grades from many online charters. The deliberate omission by officials boosted the ratings of two charter school oversight agencies, potentially qualifying them for new state perks.
State Superintendent Ross also drew heavy criticism recently from Board of Education members and other elected officials for his alleged involvement in drafting the plan to take over the Youngstown City Schools. The drastic change in education policy was crafted behind closed doors without input from local elected officials and without the knowledge of the Board of Education.