by Max Brantley
There are some folks in Arkansas who believe that if you put the word "charter" in front of school it follows that the result is better than a normal public school. It's nonsense, of course. Self-select a student body of kids with committed parents and any school will work -- charter or no. But the faulty presumptions about the essential goodness of anything named "charter" has opened the door to the charlatans. We've seen a little of it in Arkansas, but only a little because the state has sensibly prevented runaway charter school expansion (though Walton money is slowly eroding resistance).
But here in Ohio is another example of the what happens when you let this fairy tale flower:
Would-be Ohio charter-school operators received a total of $2.55 million in state and federal "planning grants" to start 33 schools that never opened, state records show.
That's nearly 10 percent of the 352 grants issued and doesn't include planning money for schools that have opened and closed.
The Ohio Department of Education is trying to recoup $1.56 million from 19 schools that either misspent startup grants or could not document how the money was spent. About $3,600 has been repaid.