by Max Brantley
I'm a week behind, but I just stumbled across this reporting on charter schools in Missouri. As this media outlet put it, they "underperformed on about the same level as their public counterparts" in Kansas City and St. Louis. Some do better than the surrounding public school district schools, but many do not.
Important to know: The study was commissioned by the Kauffman Foundation, which is financing more than two dozen charter schools in Kansas City. The report was done by a pro-charter school organization, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. It's reminiscent of the pro-charter organization (as judged by Walton and other support) that recently reviewed the Arkansas Board of Education procedures and practices on charter schools and found evaluation of startups and follow-through on monitoring have lagged in past years in Arkansas.
Needed, the Missouri report says: More money (charter backers are in line for more construction money in Arkansas) and more monitoring (the Arkansas Board currently seems inclined in that direction.) But when charter advocates tell you regulators should just approve whoever applies, because the schools can be shut down, take that with a grain of salt. Missouri education officials have no power to close charter schools. The power has been exercised hardly at all in Arkansas. Just recently, the Maumelle Academics Plus charter school, which has violated its charter promise to serve low-income minority children for the nine years since it was founded and produced unexceptional school performance despite favorable demographics among students, was denied an expansion, but it continues to operate.