Congressman Tim Ryan Calls on U.S. Department of Education to Enforce Restrictions on Ohio Charter School Grant

Oct 1, 2015 Issues: Education

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan urged the United States Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan to put in place stringent restrictions on the disbursement of the $71 million recently awarded to the State of Ohio for its charter school system. View the PDF here.

October 1, 2015 

The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202 

Dear Secretary Duncan:

I am writing today to urge you to put in place stringent restrictions on the disbursement of $71 million your Department recently awarded to the State of Ohio for its charter school system. My district is home to many charter schools that are dedicated to improving the lives of their students.  However, I have strong reservations about the current oversight procedures of the charter school program in Ohio and how the State will use these federal funds.

Ohio Department of Education School Choice Director, David Hansen, was forced to resign in July due to his mishandling of evaluations of charter-school sponsors. Furthermore, the Ohio House and Ohio Senate still have to pass a final version of the charter school reform legislation.  As Ohio Department of Education responds to these ongoing changes to the current system, I call on the U.S. Department of Education to work with the State of Ohio to make sure the proper oversight and transparency are in place to ensure accountability and success before federal taxpayer funds are distributed to an Ohio program that has so far failed in providing effective oversight.

There is no denying that Ohio’s charter school oversight system is not working.  Earlier this month, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said that the Ohio’s charter schools were part of a “broken system” and that the state needed “real reform”. Parents should not be the only ones worrying if their children are getting the education they deserve – our state government has the responsibility to ensure that Ohio students are not being underserved by their schools.

The federal Charter Schools Program was created to raise awareness about charter schools and expand the number of high-quality charter schools available to students. Mr. Secretary I know that you and I agree that federal funds must be usefully applied to effective programs and not given to a “broken system.”

I stand ready to provide you with any additional information you might require. Thank you in advance for the time and attention you will give this matter.  I look forward to hearing what measures you will put in place to prevent these federal funds from going into a charter school system rife with oversight problems.

Sincerely,

Tim Ryan
Member of Congress