Ohio’s legislators continue to inundate public schools with political mandates that defy logic in an attempt to “improve” what we do. They would like for us to believe that these decisions are based on sound educational research and their undying concern for the children of Ohio. A closer study of the facts explains how these decisions, sadly, are really made.
One of the most intriguing “scratch your head” expansions of governmental interference into education has been the increase in tax dollars that Ohio’s legislators have sent to support charter schools, some of which are operated by private companies. What has been most confusing has been that this increase has occurred at a time when the data shows that a majority of these schools are failing miserably according to the legislature’s own evaluation tools. Now, remember, these are the same legislators who lobby hard for “accountability” and “data driven decisions” in public schools. Considering how often they point to these two factors in their criticisms, one has to wonder just how they justify this increase in funding to schools that are performing so badly. Then, when you study money given to political campaigns, the picture becomes clearer.
I’ve written before how politicians love to talk about competition while writing rules that create an uneven playing field, giving an advantage to their pet projects. This whole charter school debacle is a perfect example.
Public school districts are not permitted to use tax dollars to fund political campaigns, whether that money would be used for tax levies or to support individuals running for office. It’s hard to argue against that concept. After all, that’s not really what schools should be doing with tax dollars anyway.
But, apparently, lawmakers don’t feel the same way about “public” charter schools, especially those run by private companies that are often headed by very wealthy men. For example, William Lager, the founder of the largest charter school in Ohio, ECOT, created a little private company known as Altair Learning, to “oversee” ECOT’s operations. He created another company that did business with ECOT, as well; IQ Innovations. If you visit www.plunderbund.com/2013/12/10/ecot-founder-living-very-well-off-ohios-school-funding-dollars you can see that these Mr. Lager and his two companies have contributed nearly one-half MILLION dollars to political campaigns over the last three years. (You can find additional articles on how Mr. Lager and ECOT have benefitted from legislators’ (and the governor’s) generosity at www.plunderbund.com. The money for these contributions, according to the authors of these articles, comes from tax dollars that go to these private companies that have made Mr. Lager a very wealthy man. Now, if you’re the inquisitive type, and you’d like to see just how much money Mr. Lager and his two companies have contributed to specific political campaigns, click on the “donating to Ohio political campaigns” link found in the story above, then click on “Simple Search,” and type in Mr. Lager’s name or the names of his two companies with the dates January 1, 2011, until today and voila, you will see that the very people who have ensured that money continues to flow his way have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from him. And, he has donated this money while public schools are forbidden from using tax dollars to lobby for their cause. Now, THERE’S a level playing field if I ever saw one!
And you thought new education laws had something to do with education, didn’t you? Now, remind me again, where do our children factor into this whole political mess?