Selected readings on US charter schools
Sudden closures can wreak havoc for kids, families
With the number of charter schools in Rochester expected to absorb 18 percent of the City School District’s 30,000-plus student population in five years, the state must be prepared to smoothly handle myriad scenarios.
While the ledger shows there have been more successes with New York’s 290 authorized taxpayer-funded charter schools than failures, there are exceptions. Solid state regulations are in place that require the shutdown of under-performing charter schools, but 12 years after charters opened in New York, it appears the state still hasn’t found a way to make closures as seamless as possible. That certainly isn’t the case in Buffalo, where the state notified troubled Pinnacle Charter School last Friday that it would not reopen Sept. 4 as scheduled due to its history of poor performance on state tests.
Could such a scenario happen in Rochester, where 10 charter schools serve city students and where there are plans being considered by the state for opening at least eight others next year? If something doesn’t change in Albany soon, the mad scramble by Buffalo parents to find a school for their child could be repeated here and elsewhere around the state.
Granted, the state only acted a day after the State Court of Appeals sided with the Board of Regents’ April 2012 decision to rescind Pinnacle’s charter. But couldn’t the state have required the school to draft a contingency plan for closure pending the court ruling? Imagine if Rochester schools suddenly had to absorb 500 students and additional teachers at the last minute, as Buffalo’s equally troubled school district may have to if a negotiated agreement isn’t reached soon.
State Education Commissioner John King and the Board of Regents must give more thought to such predicaments as charter schools continue to grow in popularity among parents and those persuaded that they remain the best option — for urban public school students in particular. Learn from mistakes made in Buffalo.
Source: Democrat and Chronicle