Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016
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Educators, Democrats criticize charter schools

Conference cites for-profit education disparity

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Polly Taylor-Gerken, left, a Toledo Board of Education member, and Tiffanny Adams, a second-grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School, call for accountability in for-profit charter schools, during a news con-ference Thurs-day at Lucas County Demo-cratic Party headquarters.

THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
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Local educators and Democrats criticized on Thursday for-profit charter schools and Gov. John Kasich’s support of those schools.

Polly Taylor-Gerken, a Toledo Board of Education member, and Tiffanny Adams, a teacher at Garfield Elementary and the school’s Toledo Federation of Teachers representative, spoke out against the schools and the Republican governor at a news conference at the Lucas Country Democratic Party headquarters on Madison Avenue. They said the schools have little accountability, and are concerned the state funnels money away from traditional public schools toward buildings run by for-profit providers.

“As an educator, I see the effects of these misplaced priorities every day,” Ms. Adams said.

Toledo Public Schools officials have long bemoaned that a larger percentage of state funds go toward charter schools than the percentage of students enrolled in those schools in Toledo. District officials say that while 35 percent of Toledo students attend charter schools, 40 percent of state aid goes to those schools.

Ms. Taylor-Gerken also said that the proliferation of charter schools has created inefficiencies, with fewer students in the city than 10 years ago, but dozens more school buildings. However, she said she isn’t against successful charter schools. For instance, Toledo School for the Arts, a nonprofit school based near the county Democratic building in Uptown, consistently scores high on state tests.

A spokesman for Mr. Kasich said the governor supports higher standards and more accountability for all schools, whether they are public, private, or charter, and is for increased resources for all those options.

“The governor believes in choice, and that no child should be forced to stay in a failing school,” the spokesman said.

Ron Adler, president of the charter school advocacy group Ohio Coalition for Quality Education, noted that charter schools can’‍t levy local taxes, and thus get less money per pupil than traditional public schools. Ohio also has a law that forces charter schools that consistently score low on state tests to close.

“It should be the parents decision where they want to put their children,” he said.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.

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