As an authorizer of two charter schools in Columbus, we've heard our fair share of stories about the district not being very cooperative with them (in the way of busing, facilities, etc.). Today's Columbus Dispatch ran an op-ed by the vice president of the Columbus Board of Education about the latest egregious example of the district undermining high-performing charter schools, one that involved Fordham-authorized ? Columbus Collegiate Academy ? the highest performing middle school in Columbus and the second best urban charter middle school in the entire state. If you care about educational opportunities for poor kids (94 percent of CCA's students), this will make your blood boil.

CCA, along with two other high-performing charters, pursued a lease for one of the district's vacant buildings. The district opted to lease the building to ?Groove U? ? a ?one-of-a-kind music industry school offering certificates in music business and/or music production? that Columbus board VP Stephanie Groce admits sounds ?interesting.? The problem is that Groove U submitted no evidence of past success when it comes to student achievement. Why did the district deny the lease to the charter schools?? Groce explains:

Three other proposals were submitted for the building, each from high-performing charter schools. They didn't have a chance. The administration explained to me that they do not want to lease that building to any school that might compete for students with Columbus schools. Think about that for a minute. The administration doesn't want to collaborate with a high-performing school because children might actually go there.

This is shocking considering that:

Some of the most at-risk students in Columbus will pay the price for this decision. One of the proposals the administration rejected was from the highest-performing middle school in the city of Columbus.

Kudos to Groce for taking the district to task:

The administration's actions, including the decision not to pursue a lease with a high-performing school, highlight the selfishness of adults. They recklessly adhere to an ideology that perpetuates an environment unsupportive of collaboration with public charter schools. Worse, they protect a broken system at the expense of children.

We agree wholeheartedly and couldn't have said it better ourselves.

- Jamie Davies O'Leary

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