Closing Bad Charters

Earlier today at the National Press Club in Washington DC, Greg Richmond's National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the heads of 2 brave state charter school associations announced a new plan to focus on charter school quality (as opposed to growth) called "One Million Lives."

Was the Illinois Network of Charter Schools a participant?

Long concerned with charter school quality, Richmond (for whom I've done a handful of research projects) has New Jersey and California charter associations standing with him, and claims to have support from foundations like Gates that have previously been focused on charter growth rather than charter quality.

A few hours after the event, StudentsFirst announced that it was signing onto the campaign.

Alas, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools wasn't there, despite almost surely having been invited to participate and having claimed to be concerned with quality and independent from operators.

Neither, for that matter, were charter folks from NY and DC who claim to be quality-oriented.

Take a look at the Huffington Post story on the rollout (Charter School Proponents To Announce Major Focus On Shutting Down Failing Schools).

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  • from UNO:

    The United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), a Charter Network with 13 schools and over 6,500 students in Chicago, supports NACSA’s “One Million Lives” Campaign. We support its initiatives to close down charter schools with a history of under-performance and accelerate the expansion of high performing charter schools. Charter schools which are unable and unwilling to make the necessary changes to show growth and high performance, cannot be allowed to make excuses for their own failure. We are pleased to be working with NACSA as they continue to lead the school reform movement in the right direction for all students and families.

  • Alexander,
    Thanks for writing about our new campaign, but I have to clarify a few things. First, this was the announcement of our campaign, meaning it was the first time most people were hearing of it. We privately asked just three state charter school associations to indicate their support beforehand - New York, Colorado and California. They each did. So no, the Illinos Network of Charter Schools was not "surely invited" to attend. Also, you wrote that "charter folks" from New York were not present. True, they weren't physically there, but we did ask Bill Phillips of the NY charter association to provide us a statement of support, and he did. Finally, you wrote that I "claim" to have the support of the Gates foundation - because we do, as indicated by a major grant to us earlier this year. We also have the support of the Walton, Dell and Robertson foundations. This announcement is a watershed movement for charter school advocates as we call for the closure of as many as 1000 charter schools that are failing to perform. Now that we have announced the campaign, we expect many to join with us.
    Greg Richmond

  • Does CPS have procedures in place for how it closes charters?

  • yes, CPS has process in place and recent experience with closure/non-renewal of Choir Academy Charter in 2009 and suspension of operations of ACT Charter in 2010. Look for more closures this year. My guess: ACE Tech and Shabazz.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Negative on that ACE Tech closing (not sure about Shabazz). Just months ago the board gave ACE and YCCS three year charter renewals. While shorter than the usual five year renewals, CPS has stated clearly that they will not close even a terribly underperforming charter until their contract is up.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    ACE Tech was only renewed for one year and its PSAE scores went down this year. It will likely be non-renewed...

  • "CPS has stated clearly that they will not close even a terribly underperforming charter until their contract is up"

    While it is true that CPS has to fulfill its side of the contract, there are performance terms in these agreements. You imply that charters have it easier.

    Ford Charter HS on the west side is being phased out within a few years of opening. The "job protection" negotiated by CTU makes change at union schools more dramatic, but CPS hasn't shown tolerance for keeping low performing charters open. Why would they? No one wants to replace low performing schools with low performing schools.
    The message I've seen from CPS to charter high schools is the expectation of "more". That is more instructional time, more discipline and better test schools. These charters do benefit from parent selectivity and should be expected to fulfill parent demand for more rigor and discipline than CPS is able to offer at many neighborhood schools.
    Ford apparently showed very poor academic growth and anecdotally had a poor disciplinary environment. I don't know the specifics, but CPS gave them little time to improve.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn has it mostly correct on the Henry Ford Charter High School. Henry Ford Academy: Power House High however is not closing, but they did not enroll a new 9th grade class for the 2012-2013 school year. Noble Network of Charter Schools will supposedly launch a new Noble charter high school on the Power House campus beginning with 9th grade enrollment. It is my understanding that Nobel will start their formal recruitment after the first of the year, and it will include recruitment sessions at the Power House.

    The reality is that the old Sears Power House rehab cost a vast amount of money especially for EPA clean up, so the school will not be closed down but turned over to a new charter operator. When I saw the costs for the conversion of the building into a school I have to say it was just shocking and now with the failure of the orginal charter we have to say it was a bad idea to begin with.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Donn:

    I disagree that CPS hasn't shown tolerance for low performing charters. I can think of three, right off the top of my head, that have been grossly underperforming for years: Young Women's Leadership Academy, YCCS, and Urban Prep - Englewood. I hope they improve, but they haven't even come close so far.

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