Ohio Democratic Party Launches “Chartergate” Tour in NW Ohio

Party Leaders Demand Independent Investigation of Grade-Fixing That Helped Donors

NORTHWEST OHIO – The Ohio Democratic Party is highlighting the impact of Ohio’s $1 billion for-profit charter school industry on local school districts with a statewide “Chartergate” tour, which kicked off today in Toledo and Bowling Green.

Along the way, Party leaders and officials are echoing the call from members of the state Board of Education for an independent investigation of the recently discovered grade-fixing scandal.

“Chartergate is so much worse than even Coingate,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “For one thing, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on for-profit charter schools run by major GOP donors. Secondly, this affects our kids. Ohio’s kids are being harmed by these failing charter schools. Ohio Democrats have been calling for an independent investigation into Chartergate — but to date, Republicans have blocked us at every turn.”

Today, the Columbus Dispatch revealed that Ohio Board of Education President Tom Gunlock — a Kasich appointee — is refusing to turn over documents requested by the state auditor to investigate Chartergate.

“This is a complete and utter farce,” said Pepper. “At some point you have to wonder exactly what the department is hiding — and who they are protecting.”

“This summer we watched as Governor John Kasich pulled out his veto pen and slashed more than $1 million from Bowling Green schools,” said Nick Messenger of Bowling Green. “Online charter schools take in nearly one-third of the $1 billion that the state provides to charters, and these e-schools are failing to educate our kids. If we look closely enough at the hundreds of millions being wasted on for-profit charters, we could find a million bucks somewhere to restore the cuts Kasich made to Bowling Green’s schools.”

“Ten years ago we served the over 33,000 Toledo kids in about 60 buildings within one district — now those kids are being educated in over 90 buildings for the same amount of funding,” said Polly Taylor-Gerken, a school board member for Toledo Public Schools. “If the poor outcomes for kids don’t get this administration’s attention, certainly the economies of scale should. These are hundreds of millions of tax dollars going to failing inefficient for-profit charter school operators, and the oversight is practically non-existent. With such low performance, you would expect the state to increase the oversight, but instead of an increase in oversight, failing for-profits are getting an increase in their funding this year.”

From left to right: David Pepper, Nick Messenger, Kelly Wicks, outside Bowling Green High School
From left to right: David Pepper, Nick Messenger, Kelly Wicks, outside Bowling Green High School
From left to right: Toledo School Board Member Randall Parker III, Toledo School Board Member Polly Taylor-Gerken, Washington Local School Board candidate Lisa Canales, David Pepper, outside Lucas County Democratic Party headquarters
From left to right: Toledo School Board Member Randall Parker III, Toledo School Board Member Polly Taylor-Gerken, Washington Local School Board candidate Lisa Canales, David Pepper, outside Lucas County Democratic Party headquarters

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