Charter schools are one of the hottest policy debates in American education—and we've been a lively participant in this debate since day one, both nationally and in Ohio. Our home state has struggled with these issues and conflicts for more than a decade, struggles in which Fordham has played influential—and controversial—roles, including that of an actual authorizer of charter schools.

Ohio’s Education Reform Challenges: Lessons from the Frontlines, published by Palgrave Macmillan, is our commitment to describe and analyze our efforts, successes and failures, and to distill what we think it all means for others committed to school reform and innovation.

Fordham’s trajectory in Dayton and our experience as a charter school authorizer are chronicled in 11 chapters that illustrate, as former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education David Driscoll notes, the “collision of theory and practice” and the “woes of public education in America."

Andy Rotherham, co-founder of Bellwether Education and former domestic policy advisor to President Clinton, calls it an “engaging, interesting first-hand account of education reform in Dayton.” The president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Nelson Smith says, “This book is a real battlefield memoir. The Fordham team names names—and fesses up to their own foibles as well—providing the kind of insight you can’t find in most plain-vanilla volumes on education reform.”

We are happy to finally share our story, a memoir of our unique role as dual participant in the charter school debate since its inception, and authorizer of actual schools serving some of Ohio’s neediest students.

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To read an exerpt from the book featured in Education Next, see here.

Also check out our presentation of the book's findings, as delivered at the 2010 National Association of Public Charter Schools conference, and a video interview by Education Next featuring authors Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Terry Ryan.

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A native of Dayton, Ohio, Mike Lafferty is a freelance journalist and former reporter for The Columbus Dispatch newspaper, where he covered science, environment and agriculture news. Lafferty was the editor-in-chief of the "Ohio's Natural Heritage" book. He formerly worked for the Associated Press, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

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Chester E. Finn, Jr., scholar, educator and public servant, has devoted his career to improving education in the United States. At Fordham, he is now Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus. He’s also a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Finn served as Fordham’s President from 1997 to 2014, after many earlier roles in education, academe and government. From 1999 until 2002, he was John M.…

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Terry Ryan was Vice-President for Ohio Programs and Policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and a Research Fellow at the Hoover Research Institution.

He is the author, with Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael Lafferty of Ohio’s Education Reform Challenges: Lessons from the Frontlines (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).