This morning about 80 people were at the Carriage House adjacent to the Governor's Mansion to discuss underperforming charter schools. The event, hosted by the Donnell-Kay Foundation, featured two speakers from the California Charter School Association, Greg Richmond from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and a host of other local presenters.
Converting to a charter school is one of the turnaround options available to failing public schools. But what happens when the school that isn't performing is a charter school already? Many agreed that a charter school should be closed, but Teresa Pena, the chair of the Denver Public Schools board noted that it's harder to close a charter school than a regular district school. She pointed out that parents are more invested in a charter school and thus attend school board meetings and are more vocal. Ms. Pena also noted, "We should focus on high performing options: period."
Numerous legislators and State Board of Education members attended this morning's seminar. They voiced questions about how charter schools impact other public schools and other state policies. A concern was raised about the appeal process and the belief that the State Board often supports the charter school. Randy DeHoff, CD 7 State Board member, stated there were 13 appeals in 2007, only one in 2008 and none this year. He noted that various changes in technical assistance and policy has changed the environment so that charter applicants are not appealing anymore.