Ohio has one of the most stringent academic ???death penalties??? in the country for our charter schools.?? If they perform poorly enough for long enough, the state will force them to close their doors.?? (And, for the record, that's a good thing ??? if a school can't make the grade, year in and year out, and its authorizer doesn't do its job and shutter the school, then it's fine in my book for the state to step in.)

Of course the same rules don't apply to district schools, which have virtually unlimited opportunity to remain open and seek improvement, regardless of whether they actually do.?? This fact is illustrated beautifully by some of Ohio's School Improvement Grant awardees.

Thirty-nine district schools in Ohio were awarded SIG funds.?? If the same closure rules applied to district schools as charters,??11 of these schools would have been told by the state to close their doors at the end of the 2009-10 school year because of perennial poor performance.?? Instead, those 11 schools, serving a collective 4,300 students, will use $31 million in federal funding over the next three years to try and turnaround their performance.

Even worse, 10 of these 11 schools, which are inarguably among the worst in the Buckeye State, elected for the SIG ???transformation??? strategy.?? This is by far the least rigorous turnaround model, leaving principals and staff and failing schools intact. One of the 11 opted for the ???turnaround??? strategy (no Ohio SIG awardees opted for closure or restart).

Charter foes have been making noise of late about a ???watch list??? of charter schools that might face automatic closure depending on their academic report cards due in August.?? I wonder what they'd have to say about district schools that, by the same standard, should have already lost their right to stay open, but which are going to do so ??? at the risk thousands of kids' educations and with millions of dollars in support from the government?

-Emmy Partin

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