Monday, November 11, 2002

Overhaul of online charter schools has some fuming

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Teachers at Ohio's five online charter schools would have to meet with students every eight weeks, under proposed changes to a bill overhauling the state's charter school law.

Online schools also would receive less state aid the more students a family enrolls in the school, according to the proposal, which has split GOP lawmakers trying to pass the bill by year's end.

The rewrite was scheduled for hearings on Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jon Husted, passed the Republican-controlled House in March. It attempts to make charter schools more financially accountable while expanding the types of groups that can sponsor the schools.

But Mr. Husted disagrees so strongly with a few changes that he might not support the new bill.

"I'm a little worried some of the things being considered are just regulation for the sake of regulation," said Mr. Husted, a Dayton-area Republican. "E-schools having to do personal visits with students - while that may sound good, I'm not sure what it achieves."

Sen. Robert Gardner, Education Committee chairman, said all he's heard in two years of hearings is the importance of good teachers.

"Yet now we're going to set up e-schools where students don't even see a teacher?" said Mr. Gardner, a Madison Republican and former classroom teacher.

Charter school advocates are furious about the proposed changes affecting online schools.

"You might have a teacher with students who live in Gallipolis and Toledo and Youngstown and Cincinnati," said Steve Ramsey of the Ohio Charter Schools Association.

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