Monday, December 5, 2011

Two of Mayor's Charter Schools in News for Wrong Reasons

I have always stated that charter schools should not be considered public schools, and that they should have a separate and distinct category. Two stories in the news this past week would seem to buttress my argument.

Most recently, the Fall Creek Academy has decided to cut ties with Mayor Greg Ballard’s Office. According to the Indianapolis Star, the GEO Foundation that manages Fall Creek Academy has been dissatisfied with Ballard’s decision to shutter Fountain Square Academy, another school it manages. Thus, they are looking to Ball State to grant a charter for a new Fountain Square school as well as pick up the charter on the Fall Creek Academy. If Ball State fails to pick up the charter, Fall Creek Academy might close as well.

Also last week, we learned that the Stonegate Early College High School would be shuttering because it ran out of money. This put 180 students’ education into limbo for next semester. Traditional public schools close, too. Of course some local districts have made the decision to close schools within their districts, but it should be against the law for any school to close mid-year. That, as a friend of mine says, “Just don’t make no sense.”

Can you imagine Franklin Central High School, mid-year, with less than one month's notice saying, “We’re out of money, so we quit.” NO! People would be outraged and rightly so. On top of this, this is yet another charter issued by the Mayor's Office. You'd think he'd be watching what's going on over there.

Regardless, Mayor Ballard wants to create more charter schools in his name in the city. That’s fine, but these two examples show a dissatisfaction with the Mayor’s Office in how he’s administrating his charter schools, and, in another case, how enrollment may just not be out there for charter schools right now (as well as funding). The money is only finite, and we’ve seen that the Republicans in the Indiana House aren’t going to open the purse strings much to match education.

That doesn't even begin to address this charge by Indianapolis Public Schools reported over at the Hoosier Ed Blog that charters are simply sending students that they can't handle back to IPS.

Charter schools should be considered charter schools. They are different animals than traditional public schools, and we shouldn’t keep blurring the lines.

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