Troubled charter schools get direction
Charter schools burst onto the scene as a bold challenge to the status quo. Supporters said that charters – which are publicly funded but operate free of bureaucratic and contractual constraints – would blaze a trail of innovation and serve as models for failing district schools. But what happens when charter schools are themselves failing?
Until now, it’s been sink or swim, with the state Department of Education sticking to its role as authorizing agent. DOE approves new charter schools and reviews them every five years, with charters revoked from those judged to be not making the grade.But after a year in which DOE revoked charters from two schools and found itself pulled into an ugly internecine battle over school leadership at a third (see “In Need of a Renaissance,” CW, Fall ’05), state education officials are laying plans for a new office to aid troubled charter schools.
Charter supporters say the schools need these sorts of resources, which district schools get from their local school departments. Critics are likely to see the move as a bulking up of bureaucracy, aimed at helping schools that claimed they would thrive if only freed from such nettlesome strictures.