The recent news out of Columbus–that 17 of the 75 local charter schools had closed in the past year–is bad in so many ways. It throws up a big obstacle for reformers in that city, in Cleveland, and elsewhere who need to use chartering as a policy to create good options for all families. It buttresses opponents’ arguments that charter operators don’t know what they are doing. And it gives the press a field day reporting on how much public money was wasted.
But that’s not nearly the worst. The closure of these schools puts hundreds of children back at the tender mercies of a public school district that has failed students and defrauded the public about school performance and spending.
These children might be better off out of the failed charter schools than in them. But they are caught in a no-man’s land. No charter school or authorizer is responsible to provide something better for these kids. Charter schools and authorizers have the luxury of defining whom they will be responsible for; kids who don’t get into charter schools or are pushed out of them for some reason are no longer the school’s–or the sector’s–responsibility.