Charter Pulse

Selected readings on US charter schools

MISSOURI: Charter schools bring competition to education

charter-schoolsFor those intent on deriding the Kansas City School District at every turn, the idea of charter schools is often an appealing alternative.

A more realistic view would see the schools as an education option for families, but not a silver bullet for everything ailing public schools.

That’s the wisely stated view of the head of the Missouri Charter Public School Association.

Kansas City will be part of a whistle stop tour promoting National School Choice Week today. The area’s charters will be front and center at the 4:30 p.m. event at Union Station.

Like elsewhere in the nation, charter schools in Missouri cover the gamut in quality. Some are well-run, meet student needs and legitimately earn stellar reputations.

Others are decidedly less so.

Charter schools were preliminarily scored in a look this month at the state’s new, more difficult accreditation scoring system, so schools would have a sense of how they would fare if judged.

Many charters would have been ranked unaccredited, although they are not subject to the same process used to judge school districts. Some charters haven’t been open long enough to have sufficient data, and others are structured in ways that the state standards simply can’t be applied to.

Last school year, only about a quarter of the area charter schools operating at the time met all of the possible standards. The majority met less than half of the standards.

Among the standouts in the recent scoring were University Academy, Academie Lafayette and Scuola Vita Nuova.

Scuola Vita Nuova is among three charters benefiting from a grant awarded last year by the Kauffman Foundation to the Missouri Charter Public School Association.

When charters struggle and fail, it’s often due to management, not students.

The Kauffman grant seeks to strengthen governing boards, their ability to navigate finances and other management considerations. KIPP Endeavor and Hope Leadership Academy are also receiving the help.

Yet even a charter closing, or the loss of a sponsor, shouldn’t be viewed as necessarily all negative, noted Douglas Thaman, executive director of the charter association.

It’s part of the competition that is the promise of charter schools. If they don’t make the grade, they shutter or reconfigure. If they do well, they raise the bar for all schools.

Having more strong school options in a community saves taxpayer money. Promoters of National School Choice Week cited data by the Alliance for Excellent Education.

For every student who drops out of high school, the cost to taxpayers is $71,000.

Source: The Kansas City Star – by Mary Sanchez

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This entry was posted on January 27, 2013 by in Charter Schools, Grants, Missouri and tagged , .

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