Friday, July 05, 2013

Scanning the New RI Charter Proposals

OK, new charter proposal time. One thing they all share language that either explicitly or implicitly says something like this:

The Southside Elementary Board will hold the school’s charter, not Amos House. Eileen Hayes from Amos House will be the first board chair. As sponsor of Southside Elementary Amos House, like other partner organizations, will have the opportunity annually to recommend potential board members to Southside Elementary’s Governance Committee of the board. Amos House will also help Southside Elementary by helping to serve its homeless population.

OK, fine, but the law says:

16-77.3-1. Entities eligible to apply to become independent charter schools. – (a) Persons or entities eligible to submit an application to establish an independent charter school shall be limited to:

(1) Rhode Island nonprofit organizations provided that these nonprofit organizations shall have existed for at least two (2) years and must exist for a substantial reason other than to operate a school; or

(2) Colleges or universities within the State of Rhode Island.

To be honest, I don't remember if any of the latest batch of approved independent charters had the same language in their applications. I sent RIDE an email asking for an explanation. A strict interpretation of the law is a strong and unusual disincentive to starting a charter, and RIDE has never explained publicly what their interpretation is -- it certainly isn't explained in their regulations. It certainly isn't obvious that the "entities eligible to apply to become independent charter schools" should be different entities than those who actually hold the charter and are accountable for the school.

In brief. Four proposals for independent charters. No mayoral academies, all "home grown," no outside CMO's. One in Newport, which might as well be Mars as far as I'm concerned.

Two smallish elementaries in Providence which are extensions of successful existing more or less progressive (by today's standards) local programs -- Community Prep and The Learning Community -- so relatively painless aside from the overall slow bleed on PPSD enrollment. The most annoying thing is we really need middle schools much more, and we understand that you're doing elementary because it is easier for you, not better for us.

And we've got the inevitable STEM high school which at best will become our first "weed out the feeble" 100% college enrollment, 75% attrition charter high school, based on their planned curriculum. That should at least keep the overall cost down to PPSD!

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