By Matt Hurley | Special to Ohio Watchdog
Like most conservatives, I support alternatives to public education. Parochial and charter schools are the most tried of these methods and most of these ventures are good actors, but there are bad seeds out there.
Carl W. Shye Jr. is one of the worst. Shye was a treasurer for roughly a dozen charter schools in Columbus, Dayton and Youngstown. He is alleged to have embezzled $672,000 from four of those schools that received federal funding through the Ohio Department of Education. All four of those schools had to close their doors. If convicted, Shye faces a 10-year prison sentence and a fine of $250,000.
But what lessons should Ohioans learn from this scandal?
First, alternative schools need tighter accounting controls with regular and frequent external audits. This situation never would have occurred if the system were set up to check up on the books of these establishments rigorously and persistently.
Second, and this applies to all educational institutions, parents need to be far more involved and in the know regarding the administration of the schools their children are attending. It isn’t enough to just sign the checks and make sure that your kid gets there on time and does their homework. Administrators have to be monitored or they will do whatever is expedient and causes the least amount of headache.
Lastly, we need to hold these institutions to a higher standard. When public money is used to support what is essentially a private venture, it is not unreasonable to expect exemplary results when it comes to transparency and ethics.
We also cannot let the politicians off the hook. Far too often, the baby kissers jump in after a situation like this and try to fix the problem with more regulation that is unfunded or under funded mandates or impossible to enforce. The education of our youth is a serious issue. It is well past time that our elected officials address the flaws in the system and stop using it as a political football that they continue to kick around hoping that somebody else will take responsibility and do something productive.
It is a shame that this had to happen. This is one of many programs that have too little oversight over too much taxpayer dollars. If the state is incapable of supervising these dollars, perhaps the solution is to get out of the business altogether.