Today's Washington Post has an article by Jay Mathews talks about a D.C. charter school that will be closing because its students were not learning enough. Mr. Mathews notes that its unusual for a public school to close due to lack of academic achievement, but he also notes that this is a topic many charter schools authorizers wrestle with. Indeed, there are other charter schools in D.C. performing even worse than the one set to close at the end of the month.
Every authorizer should have a non-compliance plan and a very clear charter contract (a.k.a. performance agreement) that very specifically details what happens if the charter schools fails academically and then fails to rectify the situation.
I've written about this before. Board of Education members see it differently and with board turnover, districts have a hard time consistently enforcing an acceptable standard. Bring a busload of kids to the board meeting and the chances of keeping your charter increase dramatically.
The other day I heard a charter liaison for an authorizing school district say a charter school should be able to try to operate a charter school if there's a reasonable chance they're going to do better than the district in serving an under-served population. In the Washington Post article one of the commonalities of the charter schools performing worse than the charter school that was closing, was that they served special needs populations. Certainly data should be examined to see if the charter school is at least doing better for the students than the school district would be doing.