Thursday, August 2, 2012

Timing Bad for Project School Closure

Mayor Greg Ballard
No one can argue with Mayor Greg Ballard’s decision to revoke the charter of the Project School, but the way it happened still isn’t sitting well.

On July 17, less than a month before the start of the 2012/2013 school year, Ballard’s office announced that the charter for the school would be revoked. The Project School took it to court, and Judge John Hanley ruled that the school could remain operating until a federal court decided the case. That hammer came down yesterday.

Despite the hammer hit, it seems, according to media reports, that many parents loved the school despite its apparent academic challenges and were ready to send their students back again this year.

Ballard had to do what he did, but that doesn’t make the situation any easier for parents who will now scramble to find schooling for their students. Potentially, that school situation may be back in Indianapolis Public Schools, the township schools or another charter or private school. Some students may even be home schooled. The problem, though, is that many schools are beginning, and it’s hard to uproot a student from a school they might have liked to put them in a new setting or perhaps one their parents tried to leave behind altogether.

The only two things I would fault the Mayor on in this situation is the timing and the response from his office. The Indianapolis Star quoted Mayor’s Spokesman Mark Lotter as saying, “Mayor Ballard is pleased with the court’s decision.”

How could you be pleased with turning students out with this short of notice? That would be my question.  I think the timetable is because of the ridiculous way ISTEP+ scores are released.  Regardless, there are no winners in this situation. Teachers are out of a job. Parents are upset. A school community is smashed. Most importantly, students are being forced into new places they don’t maybe want to go.

I believe this is the dirty underbelly of charter schools and what happens when we perhaps allow too many of them. Unfortunately, those in the state legislature continue to expand the role of charter schools and choices instead of focusing on improving the myriad of choices students and families already have in education.


Paul K. Ogden said...

You would think a $105,000 year spokesman could have spun it better. Kicking people when they're down, not exactly good PR.

I support the Mayor's Office on its approach to education, including charter schools, but this was mishandled from the beginning. The failure to extend due process before publicly announcing the Mayor wouldn't change his mind and closing it right before school opens for the year...bad moves.

Anonymous said...

I guess Ballard's handlers told him to close the school so he did.