KUOW Vets the Charter Applicants - Not Quite the Quality 1240 Promised

I guess hope springs eternal for some charter school operators.  Or they don't think anyone will check their backgrounds (and to those I say, welcome to Washington State). 

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?

Many traditional public schools where those charters operate have similar struggles.

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.  


Anonymous said…
And do they have the authority to reject applications on the evidence of poor quality or poor outcomes in other states?

Anonymous said…
LEV has pushed Green Dot (and Rocket) for a number of years. Didn't Sundquist go visit a Green Dot with Korsmo? (May not be remembering correctly.)

In any case, Green Dot is a charter darling and expect full court press at state to let it in. If state won't do it some muni like Spokane or Highline is likely to.

Anti Charter
They can reject an application for pretty much any reason if they find all or part of it does not meet state law qualifications. This includes past performance.

I'm sure the big charters will fight to get in but I believe it will be a fight.

And, I do believe the Charter Commission is aware that having some home-grown charters would be a good idea if they have merit and standing.
Unknown said…
Great job on the reporting by Anne Dornfeld on looking at some of the factors that need to be considered when evaluating charter applications.
Charlie Mas said…
zb, not only do they have the authority to reject applications on the evidence of poor quality or poor outcomes in other states, but they have the duty to reject such applications.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Voting in favor of charters was like voting to have Goldman Sachs take over our general treasury fund.

Look at all the corrupt barbarians lining up at the gates of Washington now, scheming to get their hands on our tax dollars, like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

Yes, please tell me they all have our kids' best interests at heart. Puh-leeeez!

The Lovely Bones said…
Wait. these are applicants, right, not ones that have gained approval? Shouldn't we wait to say charter schools in Washington are utterly worthless until you see the ones that have actually been granted charters?

Did 1240 promise quality applicants? I don't remember that.

I'm all for hating on the charter schools, but come on...
Lovely Bones, I don't think anyone here said charters were utterly worthless. (I didn't even say that during the campaign.)

Actually, yes, 1240 was so finely crafted that we were certain to get the best charters (meaning, if the Charter Commission and other authorizers did their jobs).
Anonymous said…
The fly in the ointment is those "other charter authorizers" - those "independent" entities we'll be ceding power to in perpetuity who will oversee Charters "for" the State. Designed and purposed to run interference between the charters and the public. And "we" voted for it.


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