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Published: Thursday, 4/7/2005

Charter school foes tout TPS test scores

A coalition of educators, which has been campaigning against eliminating or raising the cap on new charter schools in Ohio, yesterday released an analysis of state data that show children in Toledo Public Schools outperformed students in 85 percent of the charter schools in Lucas County.

"There are some charter schools that offer a quality education, but unfortunately it's only a handful," said Tom Mooney, chairman of the coalition, which includes the Ohio School Boards Association and the Ohio Education Association.

The Coalition for Public Education, which last year unsuccessfully sought a two-year moratorium on new charter schools in Ohio, held a news conference in downtown Toledo.

Mr. Mooney criticized the charter school system because it takes money away from public schools. TPS lost $27 million in state student subsidies to charter schools last academic year.

After yesterday's news conference, Stephen Ramsey, president of the Ohio Charter School Association, defended Ohio charter schools.

"If what they say is true and charter schools are performing so poorly, why is it that all those parents elect to send their children to those schools?"

Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, said parents "get fooled by the glitter and promise of charter schools without being made aware of the poor performance."

Mr. Ramsey called Ms. Lawrence's comments "baloney."

"Our charter schools do not get any facility support and they certainly do not have the glitter and glow of the public schools, especially during this new [school] building boom," he said.

There now are 249 charter schools serving about 62,000 students in Ohio. The current law capping the number of privately operated charter schools at 225 expires June 30.

Mr. Ramsey noted that charter schools in Ohio collectively have 77 percent economically disadvantaged students, which is above the state average.

Mr. Mooney said that is not an acceptable excuse for the schools' poor performance.

Included in the data released yesterday was an Ohio Education Association analysis of 2004 Ohio proficiency test results statewide that show 29 percent of charter school fourth-graders passed the last math proficiency test compared to 66 percent of students in public schools. It also found that 37 percent of charter school fourth-graders passed the reading test, compared to 71 percent of children in traditional public schools.

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