"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, July 12, 2010

Richmond (NACSA) Hammers Imagine; Trouble in Texas

From Greg Richmond, outgoing President of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools [CORRECTION: Richmond is President of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers] (via Edweek):
The award for the most breathtaking abuse in the nation surely belongs to Ohio. In 2006, the Ohio legislature enacted a law that allows a management company to fire the charter school governing board to which it supposedly reports and to replace that board with individuals who are more to its liking. This law turns the concept of accountability on its head. Yet the White Hat Management company is currently doing just that, taking action to remove the boards of 10 charter schools, presumably to prevent those boards from firing the company.
The chief executive officer of Imagine Schools didn’t wait for any state legislature to pass a law. He urged his staff to get undated letters of resignation from all board members and to remove members who didn’t behave to Imagine’s liking. "It is our school, our money, and our risk, not theirs," he wrote. He’s wrong. It is a public school, it is the public’s money, and the risk is being borne by thousands of parents and students who enroll at an Imagine school.
Ouch - that's the former head of the biggest pro-charter organization calling out Bakke.

That's not the only negative media attention Imagine received today. The Dallas News ran this story about Imagine's struggle to open another charter school in Texas:

Officials at the McKinney school, Imagine International Academy of North Texas, had planned to open its doors last August. That never happened, and it appears likely they won't open for the next school year.

Imagine International Academy's leaders and Texas Education Agency attorneys have quarreled since late 2008 over how the school would be run and its proposed contract with Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc., the country's largest for-profit charter school manager.

The state has said that the contract isn't written in the school's best interest and has forced school officials to tweak the proposed contract. But the changes apparently haven't satisfied all of the TEA's concerns.

However, the charter school's website says it still hopes to open for the 2010-11 school year. If it opens, Imagine International Academy will be one of Collin County's first charter schools.

"We are presently awaiting final review of our charter documents by the Texas Education Agency," the website says.


But TEA's attorneys and its charter school administrators have repeatedly expressed concern about both schools' proposed contracts with Imagine Schools Inc. The charter school operator has been scrutinized by other state education officials and board members who question the company's control of its schools and how it spends public money.

Parents and trustees at Imagine's proposed Georgetown school voiced similar concerns last year. School leaders there later cut ties with the company.

Here's your third piece of Imagine news: the Marietta City Schools Board recently denied Imagine's attempt to renew their charter in the city (Marietta Charter School). Fear not: Imagine will now apply to the Georgia Charter School Commission. Recall that a number of districts challenged the legality of the commission, but a judge ruled against them.

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