Monday, October 08, 2007

Hope Academy To Close 

Today's Washington Examiner has a story by Dena Levitz regarding the possible closure of the new Hope Academy Public Charter School by the D.C. Public Charter School Board. Theola Labbe of the Washington Post actually let me in on this story on Friday. I attended the public hearing when this school was approved and here is what I said to Miss Labbe:

The board should have recognized a red flag in that the school needed 35 students and 35 had signed up. I do remember the board asking what recruiting efforts were still on-going but they should have realized that in August you need a much stronger count to reach the 35. This goes to the heart of a potential weakness with the DCPCSB. Their role is oversight plus charter school promotion. While in the regulatory world these 2 goals are healthy in that a body that has both responsibilities has a built-in incentive not to over-regulate, it can also lead to promotion at the expense of quality. The board should have said that it needs evidence of 50 families that have signed up before allowing them to go forward.

For example, if the sole role of the board was oversight then I could imagine charter schools having to secure a facility before a charter is granted. But this is a serious catch 22 because no one will lease to a school that has not been officially chartered. So maybe we need a 2 step process for a school to open, first the charter is issued and then the facility is approved. In reality this is exactly what the board does. Therefore, what the board should really be spending their time on is fixing the facility issue so schools have someplace to go.
I also question why the hearing is scheduled for tomorrow at 2 p.m. Who can attend at that time?

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