Friday, July 8, 2016

Where Should the Power Lie Between Districts and Charter Schools?

Yesterday the CO Board of Education voted in favor of HOPE Online keeping five of its online learning sites operating in the Aurora School District. The only reason this charter school's case came to the state board was because they offer online education and in order to operate these sites, must have an MOU with the local school district, according to state online education law.

The Aurora School District contends they don't approve of the academic performance data coming from these five online learning sites, which are basically a stand-alone school operating under the auspices of HOPE Online's charter.

HOPE Online's administrators argued that interim data was more positive and that parents needed these educational options.

An interesting twist to this case is that Aurora Public Schools (APS) is not responsible for HOPE Online data since the charter is with Douglas County Schools. More importantly, APS has more than its share of under-performing schools that it operates itself. Certainly not a strong position to argue for accountability for increased academic performance.

The state board ultimately ruled in favor of parents needing educational options. Admittedly, these options are not high quality.

So where does the power lie? The district argued for local control, which district officials always interpret as THEIR local control--not parents. Many people believe parents have the ultimate control over their child's education. Similarly, if a parent decides to home school, but the student doesn't fare well academically, where does the power lie for that parent's decision to home school?

In the end, the unanimous vote of the State Board of Education, which is split 4-5 politically, speaks volumes! It means that parents have more power in decisions about their children's education than the local school district.