House Republicans still refuse to say who included controversial charter amendments in House budget

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Rumors have been swirling ever since the budget was passed out of committee  about where the amendments that removed a lot of the oversight of charter schools came from.  They have been some very clear allegations that these changes were made to appease two specific donors of the Republican party, David Brennan and William Lager, who both operate charter schools in Ohio. Combined they have donated over $4 million to Republican candidates. As we covered yesterday, Innovation Ohio released a report that connected the dots between these two donors and the changes made in the budget.  It looks like Innovation Ohio isn’t the only one who thinks these changes were made to appease these two charter school owners.  In fact one very prominent charter school advocated isn’t hiding his opinion on the matter either.

“I think they were accommodating
some of their donors,” Finn said of House Republicans. Finn is president of the Dayton-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education-policy think tank that sponsors seven charter schools. “I don’t think they were trying to fix Ohio’s broken charter school program.”

Now, this isn’t the first time we have seen charter school supporters come out against the House changes but now we are seeing Governor Kasich and promenant Republicans in the Senate come out in opposition to the changes as well.

State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, said Kasich education adviser Robert
 Sommers and state schools Interim Superintendent Stan Heffner testified against the House changes 
this week in the Senate Finance Committee. Lehner chairs the Senate Education Committee.

What is even more fascinating is when it comes to fingering out who was responsible for these changes the House Republicans seem to be acting like toddlers and just staring at their feet and not saying anything. Several charter school supporters have been wondering who was responsible for the changes and they have been unable to get any answers.

William Sims, who heads the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said the House language raises serious questions about charter schools’ financial accountability and overall transparency. He, too, said the origin of the amendments is hazy. “When we raise that question, we get kind of a code of silence. Who was responsible? There seems to be no clear answer.”

Even Senate Republicans are unable to get a clear answer.

Lehner said the source of the amendments is “one of the mysteries around here right now. From what I’ve heard, very few people saw it ahead of time.”

This is all very odd.  Speaker Batchelder is on the record fully supporting the changes made to charter schools in the budget.  The entire Republican caucus voted for this budget so it is clear they were all fine with the changes as well.  Why won’t they just come out and say who was responsible for including the amendments? For all intents and purposes they already own the changes made why not just have the person who submitted them step up and say so.

Of course there may be a very clear reason why that isn’t going to happen.  The only reason someone wouldn’t want to come forward and claim ownership of these changes is because it would be clear then that these two donors had a very large role behind the scenes in writing these amendments.  It is not uncommon for lobbyists or stakeholders to offer sample legislation to House members. Often though those members take the proposed language and analyze it  and determine its merits. It seems like in this instance the changes were brought to someone in the caucus from either Brennan’s or Lager’s people that included everything that they wanted. Instead of doing their job and reviewing the legislation to determine the merits of it the Republican caucus simply threw it all in and hoped no one would notice the impact of these changes.

I gotta hand it to the House Republicans for this one.  Not only did they pass a budget that included very deep cuts to public education but they also managed to remove any oversight of charter schools at the same time. It’s like House Republicans decided not only are public school kids going to get a crappy education but it is only fair that charter school kids also receive a crappy education.  That’s what I call progress.

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  1. Appears that they dont want any child to receive an education..RACE TO THE BOTTOM….CLEARLY…. if u keep the people ignorant u can do whatever u want…

  2. Wouldn’t one of the democrat legislators on the committee that put up the bill know? I mean how do we know that it was legally done? No one except a legislator can amend a bill, if no legislator is admitting putting the amendment on the bill, maybe it was not legally done.


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