the Beacon Journal editorial board

A week has passed since Republican lawmakers delayed implementation of much-needed rules for evaluating sponsors of charter schools. They did so through the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. The hope was that by now, John Kasich would have taken charge, the governor making plain his determination to issue an emergency rule.

Such a step would ensure that the process would go forward, the state Department of Education in position to meet an October deadline for completing the evaluations.

Unfortunately, the governor, who just spent two days in New Hampshire, in part, flirting with another run for the presidency, has not seized the opening.

Hard to overstate the importance of evaluating charter school sponsors. It is a bid to repair a glaring weakness in state oversight, a deficiency that contributed heavily to Ohio gaining the reputation as the “Wild, Wild West” when it comes to charter schools. The strong logic is: Hold the sponsors to a high standard, and they will pressure their schools to deliver in the classroom.

Those sponsors with poor performing schools risk losing the opportunity to expand. They may find themselves out of business.

So, the stakes are appropriately high. What disappointed about Republican lawmakers rejecting the rules, largely on the technicality of the Education Department narrowly missing a deadline, is that the sponsor evaluations now are in jeopardy. Lawmakers parked the rules in the offices of the Common Sense Initiative, which assesses the impact of proposed regulations on businesses. That process can consume as many as 30 days.

Then, the proposed rules would return to the Joint Committee for Agency Rule Review for at least another 30 days. In that way, the deadline for sponsor evaluations would be missed, those examinations put off for another year.

Which is just what some sponsors want, if they can’t win a complete end to the evaluations.

And who long has been doing the bidding of powerful charter school interests? The Republican majorities at the Statehouse, with generous campaign contributions reinforcing the impression. Thus, much skepticism greets their claims about opposing the rules because of concerns about some charter sponsors taking the Education Department to court over the missed deadline.

Miss the truly crucial deadline for sponsor evaluations, and the state may lose $71 million in federal money. Yet that isn’t primary reason for the governor to show leadership with an emergency rule.

The governor often talks about the importance of charter schools providing a choice for students, especially those who are disadvantaged. Here is a chance for him to prove true to his word. Those students deserve to see charter schools held more accountable.