Over at KUOW, they DID check.
But a KUOW analysis found that the six established out-of-state charter organizations that hope to open schools here are failing to consistently meet state standards where they operate.
Pioneer Youth Corps' military charter school in Springfield, Ore., is currently ranked in the bottom 5 percent academically among Oregon schools. The organization is pitching a similar school in Washington.
CAL Elementary, which has filed to open a branch of its Ohio reading- and math-focused charter school in Seattle, has an "F" rating from that state's department of education.
And in Texas, the state has notified the Por Vida charter chain that it is falling so short of state standards at one of its three schools that its accreditation is at risk. Meanwhile, Por Vida has filed paperwork to open a charter school in Yakima.
I had read up on the Pioneer Youth Corps and was pretty underwhelmed so this news does not surprise me.
As well, KUOW said this about the more established charter applicants, Green Dot and Summit Public Schools:
At Summit's high-performing Tahoma high school, for instance, 48 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, compared with 82 percent in the surrounding school district.
Just 9 percent of Tahoma students are learning English, compared with 28 percent district-wide.
Similarly, 5 percent of Tahoma students have disabilities, compared with 17 percent district-wide.
And 64 percent of parents of Tahoma students report having attended at least some college, twice the rate of the surrounding district.
Academic standards can vary dramatically by state. But of the 27 charter schools for which state data were available, only 12 schools met all of their state benchmarks.
So what's the takeaway?
Gary Miron, a professor of education at Western Michigan University, said that reflects what he’s found in his research.
"Charter schools perform at similar levels to district schools with similar populations," Miron said. "So in terms of evidence that charter schools are outperforming traditional public schools, we don’t have that."
Having seen the Charter Commission in action, I doubt that they will miss this information and will look long and hard at each application.