Before Trump gave his speech on education at a charter school in Cleveland, Ohio, he had a photo op talking with an African American student to show how much he cares about those What-the-hell-do-you-have-to-lose? folks. Then in the speech he talked up the value of school choice, including charter schools, as a way to increase student performance, especially among poor and disadvantaged students. Problem is, the charter where he spoke, Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy, isn't exactly a model of educational excellence.
Bad school choice, Donald.
The for-profit charter is currently owned by Pansophic Learning, founded by Ron Packard. Packard is the man who co-founded and was the CEO of K12 Inc., the notoriously bad, privately traded corporation which runs a string of low performing online schools in a number of states. Now he's buying up a bunch of brick-and-mortar charters, mainly in Ohio, which is known to have some of the most corrupt and low-performing charter schools in the country. He bought a number of schools from White Hat Management, which has received almost as much bad press as K12 Inc. for its poor schools and profit-centered management, and some from another charter network. The school where Trump spoke got a D for its Performance Index
on Ohio's 2014-15 school report card, which is "a composite of scores across multiple grades and subjects that Ohio uses to summarize results." It did even worse in the value-added category, which measures how individual students' achievement grew over the school year. There, it got an F. You could say, "Well, that's just Cleveland," but the Cleveland Municipal schools got a C grade from the state.
Anyone who reads my posts know I don't put a great deal of stock in comparing schools by their achievement scores, which are more an indicator of the schools' zip code than their educational quality. But Trump apparently thinks charters, along with private school vouchers, are the answers to improving school performance. He might have looked around for a better school to make his case.