The U.S. Department of Education announced the latest round of Charter School Program grants to fund new charters and expand high-performing networks.
However, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says despite what he calls some impressive recent progress by charters, he continues to be concerned about fiscal oversight within the charter sector.
“We still see too many reports of unscrupulous behavior of charter schools and their authorizers,” Duncan said in a press call with reporters.
Along with the $157 million in grant dollars, the Education Department is also asking recipients to closely monitor school quality, both on fiscal and academic issues. And states will be required to reevaluate charter schools at least every five years. To further underscore its focus on oversight, the Education Department released an open letter to all states urging them to improve oversight and outlining ways to do it (see below).
Among the seven states and the District of Columbia to receive the grant money, Ohio is getting the largest grant. Charter school critics, and even some charter supporters, point to Ohio as an example of the kind of dysfunction that can arise from a lightly regulated charter sector.
The state has come under a lot of scruitiny lately following multiple federal, state, and press-led investigations into corruption among some Ohio schools and their CMOs over the last few years. And a December study by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that Ohio charter school students on average learn less in a year than their district school peers.
Ohio is slated to receive $32 million for the first year of its grant, and $71 million in total through the Charter School Program.
You can see the full list of grant recipients here. Below is the letter from the Education Department:
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.