Charters & Choice

Can a school district sell a school building and prohibit the buyer from opening a school in that building?

It seems laughable, but the Cincinnati Public Schools are suing an individual who purchased the district's vacant Roosevelt School because the purchaser plans to open a charter school in that space. Apparently, the sale agreement contained a provision requiring the purchaser to only use the property for commercial purposes. The purchaser bought the facility for $30,000 at auction, agreed to the terms, and then commenced with plans to open a charter school in the space (a plan that a city zoning inspector signed off on in October).

Setting aside the legal question of whether such a restrictive provision is void as against public policy, the lawsuit shows what a joke the state's charter school right of first refusal law really is. State law requires school districts to sell ???????suitable??????? classroom space by first offering the property for sale to start-up local charter schools. In five years of working in charter school authorizing, I don't think I've ever come across a district actually using this provision.

The reality is that are precious few high-performing schools serving Ohio's urban children. If a district is selling a facility, and there is a good charter school that could use it, this should be a no brainer. (For example, an outstanding charter school currently in need of facilities is Columbus Collegiate Academy -- one of the highest performing middle...

Categories: 

That's certainly what the LAUSD vote on which of 30 schools to hand over to outside operators sounds like. We've been covering this issue for several months, praising the fact that the district finally realized it might need to go outside its own bureaucracy to makeover some of its worst schools. (Of course, whether turnarounds are a successful strategy is a whole other issue. For the purposes of this blog post, let's assume it is.) Parents even took matters into their own hands when they got the district to agree to a "Parent Trigger," whereby if a simple majority of current and feeder parents said they wanted a new operator, the school would be bumped to the top of the outsourcing list. But from all accounts, the way the school voting has been set up, the "election" will be mostly meaningless.

Individual votes for each of the 30 schools are happening at each school's campus. Eligible voters include parents from feeder schools (i.e., elementary schools whose students typically go to an up-for-a-vote middle school), feeder grades (i.e., fourth grade for middle school and eighth grade for high school), or current parents. It's not completely clear how a parent determines if they qualify in the "feeder" category--or how a "feeder grade" parent is different from a "feeder school" parent. Can the former be from any school in the city? If a parent falls into both categories, do they get to vote twice? More questions abound...There are...

Categories: 
The Education Gadfly

Watch our debate on school turnarounds vs. closures, and don't miss insightful and provocative comments from the panelists, including this one from Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools:

My friend Michelle Rhee, who I'm sure you all know here in DC, I've heard her say that she's heard from Warren Buffet, I think, that the quickest way to fix public schools is to get rid of private schools. Because then it would not be acceptable for half the kids not to graduate. It wouldn't be acceptable.

Categories: 

Ohio has the sixth-highest charter school enrollment in the nation ???????? about 90,000 children attend a Buckeye State public charter school.???? In cities like Dayton and Cleveland, some of the top-performing schools are charter schools.???? Cleveland's superintendent plans to turn some buildings over to charter operators through his district transformation plan, and community, business, philanthropic and education leaders have rallied to support the state's most promising charters, including Ohio's first KIPP school.???? But a reader of Ohio's Race to the Top application wouldn't realize any of this in reading the state's pitch to the feds for $400 million.

As Terry points out in the Columbus Dispatch, the application makes clear that while charters exist in Ohio, they are tolerated at best by current state leadership and won't be a major component of any state-led reform efforts.???? This is particularly perplexing when it comes to school turnarounds:

By contrast, the applications for Michigan, Tennessee, Indiana and Colorado not only recognize the good efforts of individual charter schools and charter support groups but also terms such organizations critical partners in their school turnaround efforts (another key component of the application).

Ohio's application is silent on any role for charters in turning around the state's 69 "persistently lowest-achieving schools" despite the fact that most brick-and-mortar charters operate in the state's neediest neighborhoods. Consider, for example, that the Cleveland Metropolitan School District now favors the use of charters in turning around some...

Categories: 
OhioFlypaper

Make sure you catch the latest Ohio Education Gadfly! In this edition Terry comments on the state's snub of charters in its Race to the Top application and reminds us what good things charter schools are doing in Ohio;??Mike Lafferty shows us how Ohio's recent Quality Counts ranking is good news for adults ??? but maybe not for students; and Jamie and Eric examine the claims of success made by advocates of the evidence-based funding model. (Hint: other ???evidence-based??? model states aren't doing so hot!) Throw in some excellent Short Reviews, Flypaper's Finest and Editor's Extras, and you've got all your up-to-date Buckeye State education news and analysis in one neat little package!

Do you want the latest Ohio ed news in real-time??? The Ohio Education Gadfly is now on Twitter and Facebook! Click the buttons below to follow us!

Categories: 

Last week I, and others, took the Dayton Education Association to task for its decision to scuttle the district's participation in the state's Race to the Top application. To understand this criticism, consider that the union rejected RttT funds in the face of a $5 million budget shortfall caused by rising home foreclosures and delinquent property taxes.

Further, Dayton's school district has seen 10,000 students flee for charters and other places in the last decade (shrinking from 24,000 students to about 14,000 students) and enrollment in the DEA has dropped from 2,000 in 1998 to about 1,100 in 2008. During this time the union has steadfastly resisted any serious reform, despite real efforts by different superintendents and school boards over the last decade. Dayton is perennially ranked as one of the lowest performing districts in Ohio, battling the likes of Cleveland and Youngstown for the dubious distinction of worst in the Buckeye State.????

If any urban school district in America needs reform, it's Dayton, and the reforms embedded in RttT are steps in the right direction. When asked why the DEA rejected RttT funding, here is what the union president had to say:

How would you like your job to be based on criteria over which you had no control? Let's say you are an editorial writer for a city newspaper. How would it be for your evaluation to be based on how many ads your paper sold? Understand, you are not...

Categories: 

Having spent four years working in New Jersey, I was happy to hear the announcement this week that New Jersey Governor-elect Christie selected a school choice advocate (Bret Schundler) to serve as state education commissioner.

I am no expert on New Jersey education or politics. My limited perception of Garden State education is shaped largely by my experience as a TFA teacher in Camden City elementary classrooms and in various tutoring sessions with high schoolers in Trenton. But one doesn't need expertise to realize that children in cities like Camden, Trenton, and Newark are grossly underserved by the public school system, or that spending more money (without more accountability, and major systemic changes to the way schools and districts run) won't necessarily improve outcomes.

New Jersey spends more than any other state on education per pupil yet has little to show for it in the way of student achievement. (To get a sense of the crisis, check out the trailer for The Cartel, a documentary by journalist Bob Bowden exposing the corruption and wasteful spending that makes New Jersey a poster child for what is wrong with public education [mismanagement, strong unions preventing reform, inexcusable achievement gaps despite constant spending increases]).

Bret Schundler is a supporter of charter schools, differentiated teacher pay, and tax credits to fund scholarships for K-12 private schools, reforms that the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is sure to continue fighting tooth and nail....

Categories: 

After the release last month of The New Teacher Project's Cincinnati-focused human capital reform report (see Jamie's take here), both district and union leadership seemed genuinely intent on using their upcoming contract negotiations to work together toward improving the district's schools.???? Education-reform-wise, things seemed to be looking up in the Queen City, a place where I've long been optimistic about the potential for improving education, given the city's dynamic school choice market and the fact that the district is one of the few in the Buckeye State to actually shut down persistently failing schools. But now with district-union contract negotiations just around the corner, my optimism is waning.????

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Ben Fischer reports that in the first few months of the school year, the union filed 51 grievances against the district for low-level contract violations and asked the State Employee Relations Board to investigate an unfair labor practice charge related to the superintendent's plan for addressing persistently failing schools. The number of grievances isn't unusually high, but the unfair labor practice charge puts at risk the district's attempt to close and redesign its worst schools. If the district can't do that, and if the new collective bargaining agreement is more of the same-old, same-old and not informed much by TNTP's findings, Cincinnati's education reform efforts might be doomed to suffer the same fate as its beloved Bengals.????????

- Emmy Partin...

Categories: 
OhioFlypaper

Check out this special edition of the Ohio Education Gadfly, a look back at the decade's most significant education events in Ohio. 2010 bring new opportunities for K-12 education in Ohio, but let's not forget the impact of things like DeRolph, the Zelman voucher case, Strickland's "evidence-based" funding model, charter legislation, value-added measures, and more, and their potential to shape (for better or for worse) education reform in the Buckeye State in years to come.

Categories: 

The now famous (or infamous) CREDO charter study from last June generated a ton of hype. (See our analysis here.) The results were largely mixed, seemly putting numbers behind the assertion that putting "charter" in front of (or after) a school name does not guarantee success. Then Caroline Hoxby released another charter report, which showed very encouraging results from charters in NYC.

We learn now that CREDO has issued ANOTHER charter study (pdf), this time looking at NYC specifically, and largely agreeing with Hoxby's conclusions. The first CREDO study and Hoxby's study have been compared, contrasted, and debated up the wazoo, despite the fact that CREDO did not look at NYC schools at all and Hoxby focused on them. Now we have a better comparison. But CREDO study director Macke Raymond doesn't see CREDO study 1 in conflict with CREDO study 2. As she??explained to Ed Week, "What New York City provides us with is an opportunity to step back and say, how is it possible that one market can have as robust a quality sector, where in other markets they're not able to get that kind of performance?"

What a great question. Here's a theory you may have heard before (probably here on Flypaper, in fact): New York state's tight charter cap forced that state's authorizing bodies to be more selective when granting charters. Far be it from me to advocate making the charter movement's life harder, but you have...

Categories: 

Pages