A charter school renewal discussion today by Atlanta school board shows that breaking up is hard to do

In the charter schools discussion of late, I’ve mentioned that charter schools don’t necessarily close when they fail to meet their contractual academic goals.

And we had an example of that today when the Atlanta school board took up the renewal of Atlanta Preparatory Academy, which has fallen far short of its academic goals and is among the city’s lowest performing schools.

On top of that, the charter school owes its management company $800,000, according to the board discussion.

Despite the school’s financial challenges and poor performance — it ranks in the bottom 20 percent in academic performance statewide — the Atlanta school board didn’t act on a staff recommendation to deny Atlanta Prep’s charter renewal and even discussed extending the school a five-year contract.

Last month, Atlanta released new data showing how many months of learning students averaged at each of its school in a year’s time. In a year of school, Atlanta Prep only added 6.9 months of learning, one of the lowest tallies for an elementary school.

Here is the district’s own live blog of today’s school board discussion of Atlanta Preparatory Academy:

Superintendent Davis lists reasons why APA’s renewal is in question. Some of the reasons include, but are not limited to, the fact that Atlanta Preparatory Academy failed to make AYP last year and in terms of the school’s financial performance – the school owes over $800,000 to the company that manages it.

Board member Byron Amos: I would like to pull this from the agenda and place this on the agenda for the January meeting.

Allen Mueller, APS Executive Director of Innovation: The fact that they were unaware of their performance is a reflection of their poor management. Schools are about more than test scores, but there is a point at which we have to look at test scores. If we defer this to January, the data won’t change and parents will be waiting six or seven months to find out the fate of their school from the state.

Board member Reuben R. McDaniel: So if we delay it 30 days we will probably miss the timeline with the state for parents to find out the fate of their school before May or June?

Board member Brenda Muhammad: What if I were to amend your motion to instead give them a one-year charter?

Allen Mueller, Executive Director of Innovation: It is my opinion that the state board would not approve a one-year extension for the school based on my experience and their performance. It’s never easy to close a school. When we make this decision, we look at some of things like the performance of this school versus other schools in the area.

BOE member Courtney English questions whether or not this is a bad precedent to set. ”What precedent are we now setting. If we are willing to set such a precedent as a board, how do we do that strategically in the future. Are we just going to give everyone one year to fix what is wrong….a very slippery slope.”

2.03 – Atlanta Preparatory Academy denial has been moved off of the consent agenda.

Brenda Muhammad: I would like to move that we defer action on APA for a year.

Reuben R. McDaniel: I don’t think we can do that. The action is to deny the renewal. What we would be doing is taking action to have a one year…

Brenda Muhammad: I would like to….

Erroll Davis: If I get the sense you would like to grant them a one year renewal….

Brenda Muhammad: I would like to an offer of renewal for one year to Atlanta Preparatory Academy (motion made)

Board member LaChandra Butler Burks: Even with this recommendation of one year, are we asking for something in particular for something to be done during that one year? This still has to go to the state board…..I’m trying to figure out what it is you think we are doing to give them one year vs. five years.

Brenda Muhammad: I am willing to give them five years.

Allen Mueller: Right now we have 3.5 years of data for them. They opened a year late. They are asking for another year so we can have another year of data. As to how we proceed, that is a good question. They did not write a one-year application. We would have to confer with the state board with one year vs five years.

Erroll Davis: We have no ability to say what has happened in a year, we can only look at what has happened. If you were to extend for year we would have to write the contract with some type of performance parameters. We could extend the current performance parameters but they have not been able to meet that. We could come up with new parameters, but we would have to put something in the contract to address that.

Cecily Harsch-Kinnane: It is our responsibility to hold charters responsible when we can, which is the renewal process. The only thing about the one year and the 3.5 years, is if they were supposed to make a certain amount of progress within 3.5 years, even if they have five years, if they haven’t made that progress….

Allen Mueller: We have been looking at growth as well, using CRCT data. They are either in the middle or far below in every category. Their goal is 2 points growth per year which is not aggressive. Drew and KIPP have 3 points set as a goal. No reason to believe that their growth will change in a year, however it is possible. We have to look at what we have in front of us. We have to look at where this charter is at three years. We expect things to be rocky, but if you look at comparative data from year 1 and year 3, grades 3-8 in all subjects, they had 15 opportunities to go up…they went down in 10. It would be wonderful if they would increase, but that is the data we have.

Erroll Davis: In the document in front of us they have requested a five- year charter. What they asked for at the microphone was a one month delay in action. Which is not the motion on the floor.

Allen Mueller: We are also concerned that the school owes over $800,000 to the company with which it contracts for it’s charter, Mosaica. When you hire a management company the question for the board is how do you oversee that company so that it delivers. Mosaica has not delivered what it has promised it would do. The school does have an independent board that is very capable, but there is some conflict with the company.

Brenda Muhammad: I think I read somewhere that the company is working out an arrangement with the school.

Mueller: For the school to be the debtor to the contractor that provides front office, back office and financial services is highly unusual.

Reuben R. McDaniel: We have a motion on the floor for a one-year renewal.

Vote taken. Fails.

Byron Amos makes a motion to pull this item and place on January agenda to give the school their 30 days as requested. Butler Burks amends and asks for information in January on what it means to do a one- year renewal vs a five-year renewal.

Mueller: State Board allows for five year and 10 year renewals, but they have made exceptions as has the board.

Davis: Would you also add that within that 30 days that we would receive additional information from APA as to whether a special exception could be made?

Butler Burks: Yes

Vote taken on Butler Burks amendment to the motion (more information given to BOE that might open doors to reconsider the five year as well as finding out if a one year can be considered by the state).

Motion carries.

After reading the transcript of today’s meeting, APS watchdog and forensic accountant Jarod Apperson wrote me a note sharing his concerns over the process under which the school board evaluates charter school performance:

From this transcript, I didn’t get the impression that board members treated this seriously or were very well versed in the school’s operations, charter, or performance. There doesn’t seem to have been any well-informed debate around whether to renew. Given that this school is so far behind most APS charters on tests, I find that odd.

Are board members visiting schools up for renewal prior to votes? Shouldn’t we be expecting them to? I think board members showing up once every five years to check in on things before renewing is the least we should expect.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

51 comments Add your comment


December 3rd, 2012
11:02 pm

Well those of you who voted for Amendment 1 should be pleased.

bootney farnsworth

December 3rd, 2012
11:32 pm

but wait…I thought failing charters would go under.

you don’t mean amend 1 wasn’t all it was cracked up to be…?


December 3rd, 2012
11:44 pm

@ ATeacherLikeMe
11:02 pm

How does Amendment 1 relate to the way the Atlanta School Board is handling this issue?

bootney farnsworth

December 3rd, 2012
11:49 pm

can’t help but notice Erroll Davis at his best – doing nothing.

Ed Johnson

December 3rd, 2012
11:55 pm

“–short blogging break–“ huh.

Well, here’s what I presented during that “short blogging break”…

Whereas, private goods are consumables that can be used to make a profit or can run short if consumers overuse them, thereby preventing others from accessing their availability; and

Whereas, public goods are available for everybody to use, the supply of which is not reduced by consumption, cannot be sold for profit to any entity, and is paid for through taxation; and

Whereas, Atlanta Independent School District (“AISD”) is a public good; and

Whereas, pursuant to the AISD statutory charter, Article II, Section 2-104 (a), which states, in part: “At the first regular meeting of the Board in January following each regular election, the Board shall organize, take, and subscribe before a judge of the Superior Court the oath of office that states, in part: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of a member of the Atlanta Board of Education during my term in office. … In all things pertaining to my said office, I will be governed by the public good ….;” and

Whereas, Atlanta Board of Education (“Board”) did so organize, take, and subscribe before a judge of the Superior Court the said oath of office; and

Whereas, the Board has approved and served to facilitate establishing one or more AISD charter schools to function as private goods, as evidenced by where charter school consumption can and does run short by consumers overusing the school as evidenced by “excludable” and “rivalrous” charter school admission procedures, such as by lottery and wait lists.

Therefore, be it recognized that Board members, severally and collectively, evidence conflict of interest and violating the oath of office pursuant to the AISD statutory charter, Article III, Section 3-101 (a) and (a)(2), which state, in part: “Except as otherwise provided by general law, no elected official … shall knowingly … render services for private interests when such … service is incompatible with the proper discharge of that person´s official duties …; and,

Accordingly, be it recognized that grounds for removal of Board members, severally and collectively, exist pursuant to the AISD statutory charter, Article II, Section 2-107 (c) and (c)(4), which state, in part: “Pursuant to the provisions in this Act, a member of the Board shall be subject to suspension or removal from any office for any of the following causes: … Violation of the oath of office provided in this Act.”


December 4th, 2012
12:35 am

The APS board needs to grow a pair and deny this charter. The school is not financially solvent, nor is it serving students per the contract established in the charter. Period.

Amendment 1 proponents, expect more of this “just one more chance” mentality. This reeks of childhood. Ugh.

Private Citizen

December 4th, 2012
2:31 am

@Maureen, there is some type of typo involving $8k and $800k. You can delete this message if it is relevant.

Private Citizen

December 4th, 2012
2:33 am

Erroll Davis: “We could come up with new parameters, but we would have to put something in the contract to address that.”

This is not the approach that Mr. Davis took to North Atlanta High School.


December 4th, 2012
5:19 am

It appears that Ms. Muhammad has a conflict of interest. Her statements show no regard for examining the results obtained from the investment of our taxpayer dollars.
Is there a relationship with the employees of the school? Mosaica?

Nick CCA

December 4th, 2012
5:58 am

I voted for Amendment 1, my daughter attends a charter (not this one), and I agree with you. This board needs to do their job – they should completely review all the data they can get their hands on before approving or renewing a charter for one, much less five, years. I have a vested interest in their success, and don’t want them simply becoming another poor performing school – they have much, much more potential!

Pride and Joy

December 4th, 2012
6:18 am

This board member makes sense “When we make this decision, we look at some of things like the performance of this school versus other schools in the area.”
Isn’t this a simple task? Why don’t we see these figures?
If the charter is outperforming its area schools, keep it open. If it is underperforming the area schools, close it.


December 4th, 2012
6:19 am

Brenda Muhammad: I think I read somewhere that the company is working out an arrangement with the school.

Say what?

Pride and Joy

December 4th, 2012
6:23 am

RustyHingis makes a lot of sense “How does Amendment 1 relate to the way the Atlanta School Board is handling this issue?”
What we have here is PROOF that local school boards cannot manage their way out of a paper bag. They can’t be trusted to manage public schools; they cannot be trusted to open a charter nor close a charter.
Why would one board member immediately move to table the discussion for January?
The parents need to know NOW so they can try to get their child into another school before the new semester begins.
The same goes for the area public schools; the area public schools need to know immediatley so they can prepare for the likely influx of new students.
Either way, the board is a failure here. No insight, not many facts, just move to table or move to extend for five years.
This is WHY parents don’t trust school boards.


December 4th, 2012
6:35 am

Rusty- I find it relevant to Amendment 1 on two points. We were told by A1 supporters (including legislators) that charter schools were more accountable than traditional public schools, because they would be shut down if they failed to meet performance goals (or that The Market would force bad schools out of existence). Second, we were told that parents were the best form of local control, and that parent choice should trump all. This school, with its dismal academic performance and fiscal issues, has actually enrolled more students the last several years, rather than fewer. So it appears that bad schools can and do continue in the charter model, and neither The Market (parents) nor authorizing boards are any guarantee of accountability.

mountain man

December 4th, 2012
6:42 am

Again, the question is: Is this an independent, start-up charter or was this a conversion charter? Is this one that the local APS approved (it seems like it). So they use the “failing” part to deny charters to the “upstarts” that they don’t like and they protect their own progeny even when failing? THAT is why we needed an Amendment 1. Local school boards are clearly dysfunctional and cannot be counted on to give a reasonable accounting of charter school performance.

$600 million, flush

December 4th, 2012
6:48 am

This school would be successful if it were profitable to educate those kids. I guess these parents can’t find a big corporation to fund their ‘choice’. Charter school doesn’t know how to make money and can’t educate their children. Meanwhile APS is once again too big to be held accountable.

Don’t worry tax payers will blindly vote for more money to flush down the education toilet next year on the promises of it will get better. What is another $600 million or so.

REAL solution: smaller school districts with more accountability directly to the classroom. Parents in control. Look at the top ten states on education. Smaller school districts more effective public education.


December 4th, 2012
6:52 am

Proponents will accuse you of anti-charter bias again, pointing out how many traditional public schools are failing and not closing. Get ready, Ms. Downey!

These charter companies are here to make the most money, the fastest and the longest. Period. The taxpayers (everybody) will soon rue the day they approved this bloodletting from their own pockets.


December 4th, 2012
7:06 am

It’s an independent start-up charter school approved by the local BOE.


December 4th, 2012
7:07 am

yeah, would really suck if “proponents of charter schools” used actual facts and logic, wouldn’t it.

mountain man

December 4th, 2012
7:21 am

“It’s an independent start-up charter school approved by the local BOE.”

So this school got local BOE approval and is failing, but Cherokee BOE disapproves the one independent school that applies? Then another BOE is trying th kill the charter school at the first sign of any trouble? Very inconsistent.

Atlanta Mom

December 4th, 2012
8:08 am

Parents like their school, so it should stay open–right? This is what school choice is all about. Education not required.


December 4th, 2012
8:20 am

Cherokee BOE also denied a petition from Imagine Schools, which I believe has since had all charters in Georgia revoked or closed down.


December 4th, 2012
8:32 am

Another right wing fairy tale spins, crashes and burns. You know – the markets are self-policing? Yeah, that one. In the case of charter schools, parents will decide the worth of the school and act accordingly. They didn’t, and the Atlanta BOE is also not doing their jobs either. In the meantime, a school full of students is receiving a sub-par education that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. But somebody is still making money, aren’t they? Now, how about some refunds to pay for remedial education? [/sarcasm]


December 4th, 2012
8:44 am

No surprise here.

The APS system is the quintessential black hole of funding and educational mismanagement. “It is called “black” because it absorbs all the light that hits the horizon, reflecting nothing, just like a perfect black body in thermodynamics”. One could argue that even the laws of physics don’t apply to certain applications. Certainly logic and reason are lacking. However, one can say with certainty that political gamesmanship is afoot.

Actually, I believe this is further evidence for the need of a state commission for oversight rather than a local board who is playing political favorites. As to the point, will the state board do a better job? Only time will tell.

bootney farnsworth

December 4th, 2012
8:59 am

Brenda Muhammad appears to have multiple conflicts of interest in this fiasco.
so what else is new with APS?

still, I thought the whole point of amend 1 was to prevent this sort of thing. yet the paint on A-1 isn’t ever dry, and here we are.

Private Citizen

December 4th, 2012
9:01 am

Why is Mr. Davis accommodating and civil about this school but felt compelled to use George Jetson’s Same Day Nuclear Hatchet on the North Atlanta High School? This man appears to be two-faced and very very dishonest. Did he go up the do a professional racial hit job like a hired assassin? That’s what it looks like. Can anyone explain this? I have not resolve on it and I do not like it a bit, the aggressive “executive” who governs differently in different circumstances and with difference peoples. Can someone explain this? This man is still in power, his cliche is still in power. Are they allowed to go after people and traumatise them and be “entrepreneurial” with other people’s well being?

Cherokee Parent

December 4th, 2012
9:08 am

@mountain main: The Cherokee BOE denied CSUSA’s petition several times because of deficiencies in the application. They clearly outlined their concerns and told CSUSA they would approve the application with recommended changes – several times. CSUSA chose not to make those changes, then made some changes, but did not submit their revised petition to the Board until 10 minutes before the CCBOE Meeting when the vote was scheduled. The Cherokee BOE, as a whole, voted to deny a petition they were unable to review thoroughly before voting. They should have been applauded for being a responsible Board instead of being attacked by the groups who wanted the petition approved regardless of whether it was a sound petition. Cherokee Charter is not meeting or exceeding expectations, especially financially, not complying with Open Meetings requirements, etc. While the parents and students may be happy, they are still accountable to Cherokee County taxpayers and they’re not meeting their obligations.

bootney farnsworth

December 4th, 2012
9:13 am

Erroll is doing the job APS pays him for. race baiting and putting up smokescreens so the payoffs can continue

Private Citizen

December 4th, 2012
9:19 am

Who needs remediation. The Atlanta Prepatory Academy students can grow up and be like Superintendent Errol Davis.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

December 4th, 2012
9:32 am

Somebody needs to investigate Brenda Muhammad. Would not be surprised if she or someone she is close to has ties to this management company.


December 4th, 2012
9:54 am

This can’t be. Charter schools are like free private schools. We’re all going to get Marist quality educations for nothing.

Don't Tread

December 4th, 2012
10:07 am

Terminate the contract and let someone else run with it…

Maureen Downey

December 4th, 2012
10:48 am

@Private, I did not change the APS account of the meeting, which contains that error as I am reluctant to change official commentary– in this case from the APS site — without notifying the authors. But I have done so now and have sent APS a note to let them know that their online blog — which is produced by an APS staff person — has the amount wrong in one place.

DeKalb Inside Out

December 4th, 2012
10:49 am

Atlanta Prep only added 6.9 months of learning, one of the lowest tallies for an elementary school. – At least we are talking about closing Atlanta Prep down. It apparently performed better than some elementary schools. Why aren’t we talking about closing those schools down? If Atlanta Prep is failing, then close it down. We can only give the BOE the tools to close failing schools.

[Atlanta Prep] enrolled more students the last several years – That’s an excellent note. Why did parents choose Atlanta Prep if it was doing so bad? What did they offer that the other schools did not offer. Perhaps the other schools around there should figure what the community really needs and wants and start offering it.

800K – Isn’t that the salary for 3 or 4 executive administrators for one year?

living in an outdated ed system

December 4th, 2012
10:53 am

Herein lies the problem, @Maureen. It doesn’t appear to me that there is due process for charter schools that fail to meet their obligations. Shouldn’t a school be put on “probation status” similar to a traditional school? Why doesn’t this charter school get a certain amount of time to get things fixed or else it’s charter is revoked? You don’t go to an automatic termination. That doesn’t jive. Are we missing pertinent facts in your recap?

What the comments from APS Board members indicate is being out of touch with the situation and not having any well-defined process for a school that is not meeting agreed-upon standards. And therein lies the paradox, because if this was a traditional public school, you’d simply ask for more money!

You can’t have it both ways, people.

DeKalb Inside Out

December 4th, 2012
10:54 am

Atlanta Mom,
Are you saying you know better than the parents what is good for their children?

Raquel Morris

December 4th, 2012
10:58 am

The problem here is not the fact that the Charter School Referendum passed. The real issue is that elected members of the Atlanta Board of Education, particularly Ms. Muhammad and Mr. Amos, do not seem to have any understanding of charters, their renewal process or the Board’s role in overseeing these schools. The Mayor is absolutely right, we need a higher caliber of candidates serving on the Board of Education. We are scraping the very bottom of the barrel with the current board.

Jarod Apperson

December 4th, 2012
11:12 am

School districts need to take a closer look at this Mosaica organization. They are rolling out new schools quickly in other GA districts. They now have 5 brick-and-mortar schools and one online school. The only one reporting CRCT results is Atlanta Prep. As APS’s Allen Mueller reported above, the results are far from impressive.

Why would an organization genuinely interested in improving education options for kids roll out 6 schools (including the one online) in Georgia before getting the first one right? This Mosaica organization is rapidly opening schools across the nation and I’m skeptical that they a) know what they’re doing and b) are putting the interest of kids first. My gut is Mosaica may be one of the bad apples.

According to their website;

“This proposed charter school has or will soon enter into a management agreement through which it will contract for educational and administrative services with Mosaica Education, Inc., a for-profit education management organization.”

Given the $800,000 owed, apparently Mosaica’s services do not come cheap.

There’s a big difference between responsible/effective programs like KIPP and for-profit management companies coming in and opening schools irresponsibly to make quick buck. Without school boards as gatekeepers, I’m not sure parents have the knowledge and resources to effectively determine the difference. In the long run, parents will figure out which schools are good/bad, but have to remember that kids are being effected today. School boards have to step up and make sure the charters they authorize/renew are delivering for the kids they serve.

Pride and Joy

December 4th, 2012
11:44 am

To all Amendment One Blamers –
Amendment One DID NOT open this charter — the local school board opened this charter.
The local school board is responsible, not Amendemtn one. This school was open LONG Before AMENDMENT ONE. That’s likely the reason the school board wants to throw more moeny at it and keep it open — because they are the ones who approved it.
And the facts are STILL NOT HERE — How is this charter school performing compared to its local traditional public school?
If it is doing better, give it more time, if not…CLOSE IT DOWN!
This is what we parents want — accountability — for ALL schools, not just charter schools.

Beverly Fraud

December 4th, 2012
12:05 pm

BOE member Courtney English asks if I can use my board credit card to buy some pizza cos all this debating is making me hungry if we are setting a bad precedent?

Has APS set any other kind?

Private Citizen

December 4th, 2012
12:19 pm

@maureen, Okay I get it now. Thank you. Wow, that is really crazy, I didn’t expect your answer. Interesting how such “errors” tend to go in one direction. It really makes APS look suspect. Where there is smoke there is fire and inaccurately reporting finance data in a published management weblog or transcript could be viewed as serious misinformation to the public. In context, 8k is pocket change, whereas 800k indicates funds mismanagement, creation of liability. Thank you for your good work.

Private Citizen

December 4th, 2012
12:22 pm

Yes, that’s a tricky territory, correcting their manuscript. Impossible situation, a particular genius that local school district management are skilled at spinning.

CJae of EAV

December 4th, 2012
1:21 pm

@Cellophane – The level of accountability made manifest for the performance of charter schools is a direct by-product of the level of responsible decision making made by the elected and/or appointed board of governance which is responsible for oversight. In the case the APS Board seems incapable or unwilling to make the hard choice. Which is something they struggle with on a variety of issues outside of renewing charter petitions (see Renewal of Errol Davis contract for example).

@Mountain Man – Atlanta Prep Academy is an APS board approved start-up charter, which to the best of my knowledge didn’t have the deep pocket financial backing that both KIPP & Drew enjoyed from the day one. Trust me when I tell you it makes a difference. 2nd lets examine the student population they’re attempting to serve. Its not been the most fertile area within the APS footprint in terms of academic achievement over the last 5-10 years.

So the way I see it at worst, there was an honest effort attempted and unfortunately it couldn’t obtain the traction necessary to justify keeping it going for another 5-10 years. I agree with Mr. Muller’s comments to the Board, the delay in decision making by the Board only hurts both the institution and the families involved. The uncertainly causes some families to jump ship early while they have viable options to turn to. Those that remain are stuck having to make last minutes choices based on a more limited pool of options should the school be forced to close. Personally, based on the precursory information I’m reading, I think it should close.

Southside Parent

December 4th, 2012
6:23 pm

@CJae of EAV: Regarding the challenged student population, Atlanta Prep has a free/reduced lunch rate lower than most schools in APS. Yet they were outperformed by APS schools with much higher free/reduced lunch rates. It’s not just that they are low performing, they are also comparatively low performing.

I do agree that the limited finances made it harder. That’s true for most charters. During amendment 1 debate people were accusing charters of being elitist, but most serve low income kids. The lower per student funding for charter schools serving low income kids where that school isn’t supported by a foundation makes a very painful balancing act.

One Teacher's Voice

December 4th, 2012
10:55 pm

Have faith in your state leaders to fix this.

No one in charge at the state level will ever be persuaded by private management dollars to do the wrong thing.

No lobbying or campaign funds will encourage them to make the wrong decision.

No national party platform will keep your representatives from making the best decisions for your tax dollars.

After millions have been spent on the charter experiments, your representatives will make the right decision.

They won’t make another decision that will involve pulling more out of public schools.

They won’t attempt to put money into private hands again.

Trust them to not be persuaded.

CJae of EAV

December 5th, 2012
12:25 pm

@Southside Parent – While the free & reduced lunch ratio is an often cited indicator on this blog the fact that APA has a lower ratio compared to some other APS schools nearby doesn’t mean that APA may well be attempting to serve a student population that in general has been challenged with significant deficiencies prior to existance of APA. That’s was the point I was trying to make.

If you’re dealing with a population that historically has been low performing, the fact that the 3 year old charter institution is still struggling trying to raise the bar for this population shouldnt necessarily be all that shocking. The question ultimately becomes, does the APS Board think APA is moving in the right direction and capable of making progressive gains if they allowed to continue operating.

Brenda Muhammad from her public statements seems to suggest she believe that APA will turn the corner with more time. The recommendation from the central office seems to suggest otherwise.


December 5th, 2012
4:30 pm

@Jarod Apperson Dec. 4 ,2012 11:12 AM “School districts need to take a closer look at this Mosaica organization.” Thank you for focusing on what I and many opponents of the entire school choice-charter school movement believe harms traditional public education by diverting taxpayer funds to charter schools and the for-profit entities which own them or contract to run them like Mosaica in the case of Atlanta Preparatory Academy. We do need to focus on Mosaica Education, Inc. and all the other private for-profit businesses which are making a fortune from the taxpayer funds they receive as part of their involvement in the charter school process. As so many of these charter schools fail, one has to wonder: where did the money go? $32.5 Million in taxpayer funds went to Fulton Science Academy Middle School before it was shut down by the state. How much of those funds constituted profits for the private for-profit entities involved with that school. When I see the letters “Inc.” after an entity’s name I know immediately that it’s all about money, money, money. And if the government is providing the money, all the better! That’s why I oppose the charter school movement in its entirety. Yes, it is hard to argue that something needs to be done when non-performing public schools in poor neighborhoods are not properly educating their students, but the answer is not to turn them (and the millions of dollars of tax payer funds that go with them) over to the for-profit sector based on some benighted concept that they will do a better job. They won’t. They don’t. But they will take the money and run when the whole thing goes south. The answer is to fix the public schools where needed. And, as Diane Ravitch correctly maintains in her book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” her articles, and her blog, the public schools in America are in much better shape than the “school reform advocates” argue and their arguments lose authenticity when you look to see who is supporting these critics, namely the corporate interests which stand to profit from the school choice-charter school, school voucher, etc. privatization movement.

The charter school amendment passed. So now it’s katy-bar-the-door on funneling billions in taxpayer funds to the for-profit, private sector public education privatizers standing by with their hands out. The real battle begins now as more and more charter schools, having diverted millions in desperately needed public funds away from traditional public school districts into the hands of private, for-profit entities, fail and get shut down. Fulton Science Academy Middle school: charter revoked. Fulton Science Academy High School: charter revoked. APA: struggling to survive but likely doomed to fail. When will this stop?

Southside Parent

December 5th, 2012
6:57 pm

@CJae of EAV: Free/reduced lunch is the statistic that’s uniformly available. But I find it hard to believe that they could draw a demographic that has a significantly lower free/reduced lunch rate yet has been historically more challenged than other APS schools near to their campus.

From the blog’s recap, it appears Ms. Muhammad expressed her commitment to a five year renewal, then wanted to hear about the academic history. Given the reality of low and declining performance and financial difficulties, it’s hard to imagine that her hopes are well founded. But then again, if you go back to Drew’s early history, it took them several years to get traction.

Dr. Monica Henson

December 9th, 2012
12:30 am

This situation encapsulates perfectly the problem with local boards of education serving as charter school authorizers. This is precisely why we need a single-purpose authorizing entity in Georgia, which is what Amendment One revives. The Charter School Commission will apply best practices as promoted and encouraged by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. NACSA recently came out with a report calling for closure of charter schools that fail to meet their objectives. I predict that you won’t see such dithering when the Ga CS Commission is faced with a failing charter school–but then, they will apply stringent standards before awarding charters to begin with.

The more important issue is: when are we going to start dealing decisively and effectively with failing DISTRICT schools?

[...] few weeks ago, I wrote about the Atlanta school board’s debate over renewing the charter for Atlanta Preparatory Academy. Several of you commented on the lack of [...]