Charter schools targeted for closure

BOSTON — As many as one in five U.S. charter schools should be shut down because of poor academic performance, according to a group representing states, districts and universities that grant them permission to operate.

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers said 900 to 1,300 of the privately run, publicly financed schools should close because they are in the bottom 15 percent of public schools in their states. The Chicago-based group’s members — such as the Los Angeles Unified School District and the State University of New York — oversee more than half of the nation’s 5,600 charter schools.

The announcement represents a challenge to the fast-growing charter-school movement, created as an alternative to conventional districts and operating without many of their rules. To hold the organizations accountable, states must pass new laws that would shut down poor performers, said Greg Richmond, president of the charter-school organization.

“For all the excellent charter schools, there are also many not serving students well,” Richmond said from Washington. “That’s unacceptable.”

The call for closing poor-performers carries special weight because it comes from an organization funded by charter-school advocates such as the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

About 2 million children, who make up 4 percent of public- school enrollment, attend charter schools, more than three times the number 10 years ago, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a Washington-based nonprofit group.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans turned to charter schools to overhaul public education. The schools now enroll three-quarters of the city’s students, a larger share than in any other U.S. district, according to the alliance. Charter schools in Detroit and Washington educate more than 40 percent of students.

A 2010 survey by the consulting company Mathematica Policy Research compared students enrolled at charters with those who applied but weren’t admitted. It found that performance was similar in reading and in math, though there were wide variations across schools. A 2009 Stanford University study found that charter students fared worse.

Poor and low-achieving students at charters showed significant gains over peers at traditional public schools, the Mathematica study found. Charters in large urban areas helped students’ math achievement. Outside those regions, they had a negative effect.

The announcement follows debate about whether charter schools are weakening the finances of traditional districts, siphoning off students from the most committed families, promoting racial and economic segregation in public education and failing to provide equal access to students with disabilities.

The authorizers’ group is trying to police against practices that weed out lower-performing students, which can also make charter school achievement look better than it is, Richmond said.

“We want to know if games are being played,” he said.

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Agency didn’t expect such big demand for needle clean-up kits

The Snohomish Health District ran out of supplies quickly, but more are arriving daily.

EvCC teachers take their contract concerns to the board

Their union says negotiations have been disappointingly slow. The community college isn’t commenting.

Here’s what to do if you want to vote and aren’t registered

Oct. 30 is the deadline for new-voter registration in time for the November election.

Two teens struck by truck in Lynnwood

The teens, between the ages of 14 and 16, were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Luring attempt reported in Mountlake Terrace

The driver allegedly instructed a boy to get in the truck and help grab a scooter he was giving away.

Injured hiker rescued near Granite Falls

Woman fell and hit her head on a rock Saturday, and her condition worsened overnight.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Most Read