The Georgia Charter Schools Commission – the body empowered by the Legislature to overrule local school boards and approve charter schools – gave its blessing to seven new schools, according to the AJC.
That pushes the total of state commission approved charter schools to nine. (Whether the state can legally approve charters and apportion them local monies – by a legislative sleight of hand – will be thrashed out in a pending lawsuit by miffed school districts. If the local systems win in court, it will be interesting to see what happens to these state approved charters if and when their local money disappears.)
However, the commission denied 21 other petitioners because their applications failed to meet standards, present a viable academic plan or because commissioners worried there was insufficient expertise or community support for the school.
The latest approvals went to: Atlanta Heights Charter School, which would draw Atlanta Public Schools; Peachtree Hope Charter School in DeKalb County; Fulton Leadership Academy; Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia; The Museum School of Avondale Estates; Heron Bay Academy, which would draw students from Henry and Griffin-Spaulding school districts; and Pataula Charter Academy, which would attract students in Calhoun, Clay, Early, Randolph and Baker counties.
While in Atlanta today, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for more charter schools, but cautioned that the schools should only be approved if they meet a high bar, saying, “Good charters are part of the answer. Bad charters are part of the problem. We have both now and everything in-between.”
I also read an interesting paper today from the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education about the high teacher turnover at charter schools.
The study by David A. Stuit and Thomas M. Smith of Vanderbilt University found that charter schools experience higher rates of turnover and are more likely to have teachers report that they voluntarily moved or left the school system, as opposed to being removed involuntarily for inadequate performance.
The study clearly sounds an alarm that ought to concern charter school proponents:
Collectively, the findings from this study illuminate a critical challenge facing charter schools and may explain part of the reason why charter schools are not systematically outperforming their traditional public school counterparts. Charter schools are experiencing rates of both attrition and mobility that are high by any standard. The evidence presented herein suggests charter schools may be leveraging their flexibility in personnel policies to get rid of underperforming teachers. Nevertheless, most of the turnover charter schools are experiencing appears to be dysfunctional. Compared to traditional public school teachers, charter school teachers are more likely to voluntarily leave the profession or move to a new school because they are dissatisfied with the school and its working conditions. The organizational disruption caused by this high level of dysfunctional turnover likely makes it difficult for the charter schools to maintain a level of instructional quality from year to year.
I know that the charters add depth to the school choice landscape in the communities where they will open, but still wonder about the precarious funding issues and what an adverse court ruling would mean.
What do you think?