Your article about charter school closures raised some critically important questions (“Debate Revs Up Around Closing Low-Achieving Charter Schools,” Aug. 22, 2012).
Here in Maryland, we are saddled with a state law on charter school approval and renewal that is too vague and provides little useful guidance to the local school systems that make these crucial decisions.
But at the local level, the Baltimore city district, under the law the only charter school authorizer in Baltimore, is moving forward on the issue on its own. The school system, in partnership with nonprofit organizations and representatives of charter schools themselves, recently established a promising new process for evaluating and deciding whether to renew charter school contracts in Baltimore.
This new process will rely heavily on data and facts about each charter’s performance, coupled with qualitative observations. The Charter and New School Advisory Board—made up of school officials and community representatives—will make recommendations on renewals to the district’s leadership.
Having this kind of thoughtful review is critical. Baltimore’s 33 charters are an important part of our portfolio of school options and meet the needs of many families.
The bottom line is we must be transparent and rigorous in evaluating all Baltimore schools; we can’t afford to have any low performers. This new process can ensure that the city’s charter schools are each doing a great job of educating our children.
Nothing less should be acceptable—here in Baltimore or throughout the country.
Supporting Public Schools of Choice
A version of this article appeared in the September 19, 2012 edition of Education Week as ‘Thoughtful Review’ Crucial for Decisions on Charters