Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bad Night At The Charter School Board Meeting 

You didn't want to be on the agenda of last night's meeting of the D.C. Public Charter School Board. Here's a list of the schools that testified and the outcome:

Washington Academy - charter revocation, school closing in February
Maya Angelou - placed on Warning Status facing possible charter revocation in one year
Washington Latin - facility decision deferred after a long discussion regarding poor governance performance at the school. Correction: I just(1/30/08) received word that my recollection of the board's decision is not accurate. In fact, the board approved Washington Latin's expansion.
LAMB - the one bright spot, the school was granted permission to temporarily co-locate with Hope Charter School while a new facility is being built
Tri-Community - placed on Warning Status facing possible charter revocation in one year
DC Preparatory Academy - placed on Warning Status facing possible charter revocation in one year
Colin Powell - initial charter approval rescinded

While the board went out of their way to make a distinction between schools like Maya Angelou and D.C. Prep, which just need some tweaking, and Tri-Community, which could certainly end up being closed, the process points to some fundamental problems with the system of holding schools hostage to accountability plans that may or may not be appropriate for a specific student population. For example, the board practically apologized for putting Maya Angelou on the list because they are educating at-risk students who, if it was not for them, would be on the street. On the other hand, D.C. Prep was punished because of not making certain academic standards contained in the plan, even though their student population is perhaps one level up from Angelou's. The board considered last night coming up with some type of sanction lower than a warning which could be applied to charters who will most likely make it in the long run. However, to me it seems that there is a systemic misalignment between expectations regarding educating D.C. kids and goals the staff of the charter board and those of the schools agree to include in the accountability plans.

In addition, what came across loud and clear, was that all schools who had problems meeting their accountability standards also had spent considerable energy trying to solve problems regarding their facilities. Of course, I have been pointing this out for years. Facility issues drive charter school success.

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