Charter School Under Fire… for Teaching All Kids to Read

Jed A. Hartings | January 5, 2024

(RealClearEducation) — As one of the most powerful political lobbies in the country, the education establishment excels in coordinated attacks to stifle competition. Now they are so threatened that they are taking aim at a new classical charter school in Cincinnati, Ohio.  

I proudly serve as board president of Cincinnati Classical Academy, a thriving school in its second year located less than a mile from the Cincinnati Public Schools district. Our school was recently attacked by the Network for Public Education (NPE), an anti-charter advocacy group, alongside numerous public school unions, activist groups, and Democratic politicians, including Congressman Greg Landsman. These anti-choice factions are pressuring the U.S. Department of Education to rescind a competitive $2.0 million federal grant that was awarded to Cincinnati Classical this year.  

Their reasoning? The NPE’s letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, which was promoted and amplified by The Washington Post, absurdly accuses Cincinnati Classical of falsifying test scores and neglecting underserved students.  

But their real gripe is likely the exact opposite: the fact that underserved students thrive at our school. The truth is that all students excel at Cincinnati Classical and benefit from our teacher-led instruction, content-rich curriculum, and strong school culture. All students are given such an advantage—no matter their circumstances—that Cincinnati Classical Academy ranked top in the state in academic achievement in its first year of operation. 

Cincinnati Classical is located just a couple miles from socioeconomically and ethnically diverse neighborhoods and school districts in Hamilton County. However, contrary to the NPE’s claims, the exact location is trivial and accidental when the enrollment geography is considered. Evidencing the high demand for public classical education, the school draws its current 600 students from 60 different ZIP codes, 35 school districts, and six counties – far beyond Cincinnati Public Schools and Hamilton County. As a public school, we accept and serve all Ohio residents who apply, if seats are available, including those who are economically disadvantaged and those who require special education. Yet, with over 400 students on the waiting list, school capacity has not kept pace with demand.