Using Traditional School Methods to Assess Online Charters Is ‘Apples to Oranges’ Exercise

A letter to the editor published in Education Week addresses a national study about online charter schools that has raised concerns from many about its methodology.

Mary Gifford and Jeff Kwitowski from K12 Inc. write:

“Measuring online schools through accountability systems designed for traditional schools creates an apples-to-oranges exercise. These systems are often misaligned and do not effectively measure mastery or individual student progress over multiple points in time. States should move to competency-based assessments and student-centered accountability frameworks, which should emphasize academic gains over static proficiency; hold schools more accountable for students who are enrolled longer; and eliminate the perverse incentives that unfairly penalize schools of choice for serving transfer students who enter below proficiency or behind in credits.

Yes, student results in online schools must improve, but so, too, should the metrics and accountability systems.”

Click here to read the full letter.

Newswire: March 22, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.04.04 PM

Vol. 18, No. 12

NEW INDEX ON THE BLOCK. There’s a new education index on the block (of course Newswire readers know that CER’s Parent Power Index was one of the first) called the Education Equality Index, and it measures how well states, cities, and scScreen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.07.08 PMhools are doing when it comes to closing the achievement gap for low-income children. Sadly, the statewide achievement gap is “massive” in three out of four states for which information is available. The bright spot is that nearly 30 percent of the 610 achievement gap-closing schools recognized in this study are charter schools, and yet such opportunities are still too few and rare to address the enormous challenges students face today from pre-school all the way through higher ed. We believe that fact calls for another index. How about an Education Opportunity Index that gauges not just how states are doing, like Parent Power does, but how many opportunities really exist to address that education gap? It would not be a pretty sight.

BLUEGRASS CHARTER UPDATE. A charter pilot, albeit weak compared to what we know after 20 years of studying what works when it comes to the nation’s best charter laws, passed the Kentucky Senate 28-9. Legislation moves to the House next, amid noise from the KEA because of a provision that prohibits the unionization of a charter school — or in other words takes away their power— making the bill “unacceptable to us.” The reality is this bill isn’t likely to pass this year, which allows charter champions in the Bluegrass State to take another bite of the apple, and hopefully a bigger one next time around.

MORE RESEARCH RUCKUS. A report that fails basic standards of sound research methodology grabbed the attention of the New York Times, reporting with a headline saying charters are more likely to suspend black and disabled students. The report makes sweeping generalizations without the kind of detail or data that is actually helpful to making good public policy. Thankfully, many in the know are speaking out against the report’s flimsy research methods. A learning moment for reporters, who should be cautious of research studies making sweeping generalizations about charters, particularly after the 2009 CREDO report.

12295411_548111662012069_4535332731884006862_nLOUISIANA OBSTRUCTIONS. The Jefferson, LA Parish Council has become a forceful advocate on behalf of charter schools, just as the local school board is pushing back on the threat of a successful Kenner charter school. Council members passed a resolution to oppose any action to block the popular charter school’s renewal. “Whatever we can do for you, we will do,” council member Ben Zahn said after the vote. “It’s a great school. I have nothing bad to say about it,” said another council member. The charter has a waiting list of more than 1,000 students, and received more than 1,400 applications for just 200 open seats. And yet, the school board wants it closed. Go figure.

PARENT POWER. The Walton Family Foundation announced last week that it has embarked on a five-year strategic plan that continues its long-term focus on dramatically expanding educational opportunity for all children. We are grateful to WFF Board Chair Carrie Walton Penner for taking a stand on parent power. Her visit with a kindergarten class at a Los Angeles charter school that puts parents first is well-timed, given the opposition of LAUSD as it rejected a parent trigger petition from nearly 350 parents who want a better elementary school for their children. The school Ms. Penner visited is Synergy Academies, whose Co-Founder Dr. Meg Palisoc is a CER fave! Meg recalls attending a CER-led parent meeting in L.A. years ago and our efforts to support her along the way as she started her first school. Today, Synergy Academies is thriving, and it’s because Palisoc, a former L.A. Unified teacher, understands that kids, and in turn their parents, are at the heart of what the education system is truly all about.

ED TECH INNOVATION OF THE WEEK. Founded by experienced ed tech entrepreneurs, EdBacker is the nation’s first user-friendly online platfoScreen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.04.04 PMrm designed to address the pain points that come along with America’s educational funding gap. From fundraising, to eliminating barriers between corporate entities and districts, to donor management, to parent communication, EdBacker goes beyond just a financial relationship. “Everyone agrees education is important, but making it tangible where they can do something about it is difficult – and that’s EdBacker’s real success,” Gary Hensley, CEO & Founder of EdBacker, told CER’s Newswire. In just three years of existence, EdBacker has helped raise nearly one million dollars for US students from parents and communities. The money also means more people are vested in what the schools are doing, and, we believe, more informed as a result. (Have an ed tech innovation that advances student, educator or parent power? Send it to


Newswire: March 15, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 3.33.48 PM

Vol. 18, No. 11

ED TECH CAN BOOST OPPORTUNITY. Every child in America deserves the opportunity to access a high-quality education in whatever formphoto 2at best fits their needs. Microsoft knows CER Founder Jeanne Allen has been a tireless advocate towards that goal, and wanted her thoughts on how ed tech, a booming source of innovation in the education world, can help make that a reality. Here’s what she had to say.

ARE YOU A SLACKER? Slack is a digital platform helping teams “be less busy,” bringing all communication together in one place, combining real-time messaging with archiving and search functionality. With over 2.3 million users since its launch two years ago, EdSurge is taking note of Slack’s popularity, posing whether it could be the next online learning platform as it signals a new way to house learning online, more akin to the seminar classroom than the lecture hall.” We’ve been fans of this tool for a long time, and can attest to its effectiveness in streaming our own in-house edreform conversations!

EDUCATED VOTE. Voters in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio are taking to the polls today in another big primary Tuesday. Whether or not you have voted yet, make your sure the ballot you cast is an informed decision. With Bernie Sanders making up a new kind of charter school, and Trump earning three Pinocchios from the Washington Post for his comments on Common Core, it’s more important than ever to determine what’s reality and rhetoric and learn how to spot a truly reform-minded candidate. A vote for expanded educational opportunities is a vote for a great nation, so be sure to get active and get involved.

TIME FOR CONGRESS TO ACT. That’s whDC_Rally_WS_03at the Washington Post Editorial Board, Mayor Muriel Bowser and a majority of the DC Council, and parents of the more than 1,900 applicants for just 146 spots are saying about the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). If Congress doesn’t reauthorize the DC OSP, funding could dry up with no new students being accepted after the 2016-17 school year. With three DC Council members having a change of heart about killing a program that’s successfully helping low-income children, let’s hope newly minted Education Secretary John King will sing a different tune about his Department sitting on $35 million in carry-over funds dedicated to the DC OSP. 

TRIBUTE. A message from Jeanne Allen, the Center’s Founder:

In a world fixated on a political race that challenges all measure of civility, we often fail to recognize the incredible people who have shown us a path to what it really means to make America better. Beth Curry and Jim Kimsey were two such people. They left this world in the recent past, but their gifts, and their example, live on.

Beth Curry was co-founder of Eagle Capital with her husband Ravenel, and together this Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 3.33.48 PMCharlotte, NC native and her husband would contribute to education and education reforms throughout the nation. Beth helped drive their philanthropy with her inquisitive mind, helping to tackle cities as perniciously difficult to improve as Newark. In my few meetings with her on regular visits to seek support, Beth would focus the conversation on how parents and children might have real power, and whether particularly policies or practices would help them get it. I always thought, wow, if more donors asked these questions, we may arrive at our destination of excellence for all students much sooner.

Equally focused on giving parents choices and kids a chance, Jim Kimsey was a strong Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 3.36.22 PMand early contributor to the programs created to do precisely that in Washington, DC. The co-founder of AOL not only used his financial resources but his political clout to help others, like his old friend Joe Robert, ensure that the city and the nations’ elected officials do everything in their power to save children from failing schools and create real opportunities for education success. The DC scholarship program was an outgrowth of their support, and Kimsey’s commitment to answering the call of schools throughout the region was legion.

While only acquaintances, I saw in both of these individuals enormous positivity and humility in all they supported. Interestingly, neither of their obituaries talks about their great education contributions. But for countless families, Beth and Jim’s generosity of purse and spirit truly made lives better.



Charter Schools Work For Teachers

Public charter schools have been making headlines in recent years. As policymakers debate equitable funding and expansion, teachers like me are on the frontlines of this pioneering movement.

I believe it’s critical that teacher voices be heard when debating the future of charter schools in Georgia.

I’ve been an educator for five years. When I graduated from undergrad with a degree in English Language and Literature, my head was spinning in at least ten directions. Would I pursue a career in journalism as planned? Would I dedicate my time, energy and writing talents to a nonprofit organization? Or should I take my love for education and work to revive a crumbling school system – Detroit Public Schools.

I chose the latter route and found a home at a charter school in its second year of operation. The principal was a young, vibrant educator with a passion for perfection. Quickly, I fell in love with the flexibility and creativity that I was afforded even as a paraprofessional without a teaching certificate.

Once I was certified, I pursued other charter schools in Atlanta and surrounding areas. It is in this innovative environment that I’ve been able to experience the flexibility and autonomy that I’ve always envisioned for my career.

Despite serving millions of students and employing thousands of educators across the country, these laboratory-like schools are still misunderstood in many communities in Georgia. Independent charter schools in Atlanta are unique public schools offered bureaucratic freedom in exchange for real results. Just like traditional public schools, they don’t charge tuition, are publicly funded, and open to anyone who applies.

My charter school has the freedom to adjust the school day, choose new and exciting curriculum resources, and develop strong models for learning. Teachers like me are treated as equal partners with valuable experience and ideas, asked to lead professional development sessions and change actually happens when teachers’ voices are heard.

My reasons for staying at a charter school are simple, but the most powerful pull for me has been the fact that charter schools either fail or succeed because of their ability to make choices. Schedules and hours can be tweaked, curriculums can be discontinued if they’re not working, professional development opportunities are left at the discretion of both the leadership and classroom teachers – catered to the needs of the staff.

I also love the idea that teachers have more opportunities to move around within the educational setting. One year you’re teaching a classroom full of scholars, the next you may be positioned as a branding manager, parent liaison, or curriculum coach. Charters tap into the talents and passions of their teachers to better their schools…and better schools breed better students.

I know that teachers, not just in Atlanta, but across the state understand the transcending power of a high quality education. The vast majority of my colleagues enter the profession with dreams of changing lives and impacting communities. Nowhere is this dream more alive than in public charter schools designed to serve the Atlanta’s most high-need students. I’m proud to match my vision of education with a school that needs teachers like me.

The truth is educators on the front lines know a one-size-fits-all system does little to address the unique needs of all our students. Students learn differently, just as teachers have their own strengths and weaknesses. In adapting to system of choice across the country, professional educators are realizing that advances like charter schools are not only meeting needs for students, but also providing professional opportunity. We must see this progression across Georgia.

While the status quo would have you believe educators are not in favor of choice initiatives like public charter schools, thousands of teachers support this new direction and are working in schools of choice every day.

According to a membership survey by the Association of American Educators, teachers across the country are indeed warming to policies that advance parental and student choice. As a member, I couldn’t be more proud that my colleagues are embracing the wave of the future for our students and teachers.

My message to stakeholders in Georgia is simple. As a public charter school teacher, I’m directly benefiting from choices in education and I’m grateful. I wake up knowing that I am in an environment that challenges me professionally and allows me to work with scholars who need me most.

Ain Drew is a public charter school teacher in Atlanta.

This post was originally published by the Association of American Educators here.

Vetting the Next Secretary of Education

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 5.15.27 PM

March 9, 2016
Wall Street Journal

CER’s Jeanne Allen talks to Mary Kissel on Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal about John King’s nomination for Education Secretary, as the Senate HELP committee voted 16-6 in favor of his nomination today.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 5.15.27 PM

Today was the second hearing on John King’s nomination. A recap of the first hearing is here, where Senator Tim Scott pressed King on DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. King’s nomination awaits a full vote from the Senate.

Where Does Hillary Clinton Stand on Education Reform?

by John Cassidy
The New Yorker
March 7, 2016

One of the most intriguing moments in Sunday night’s Democratic debate came when CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Hillary Clinton, “Do you think unions protect bad teachers?” In the Democratic Party, few subjects are as incendiary as education. On one side of the issue are the reformers, such as Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, who support charter schools, regular testing, and changing labor contracts to make it easier to fire underperforming teachers. On the other side are the defenders of public schools, such as Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, who are seeking to impose limits on the charter movement, modify testing requirements, and stand up for teachers.

In Arkansas in the nineteen-eighties, Hillary Clinton backed education reform, particularly the use of testing to improve standards. In 1992, when her husband was running for President, she received the now-famous “Letter to Hillary Clinton,” from Marc Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, which advocated a national curriculum, extensive testing, and an education system in which “most of the federal, state, district and union rules and regulations” that prevented big changes “are swept away.”

Bill Clinton’s Administration supported legislation that incorporated some of Tucker’s ideas, and it also encouraged the growth of charter schools, which were then a new idea. In her 1996 book, “It Takes a Village,” Clinton wrote, “I favor promoting choice among public schools, much as the President’s Charter Schools Initiative encourages.” In 1998, she said, “The President believes, as I do, that charter schools are a way of bringing teachers and parents and communities together.”

Back then, Hillary Clinton also supported changing rules in order to make it easier for principals and school districts to get rid of problem teachers. In her 2000 Senate run, during a debate with her Republican opponent, Rick Lazio, she said, “I think we ought to streamline the due-process standards so that teachers that don’t measure up would no longer be in the classroom.”

Some of Clinton’s wealthy backers are still big supporters of the education-reform agenda, which the Obama Administration has also pursued aggressively. (Last year, it asked Congress for a fifty-per-cent increase in funding for charters.) But as Cooper pointed out during Sunday night’s debate, Clinton has received the endorsement of two of the biggest teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, which are far less enthusiastic about charters and changes to work rules. Does this mean Clinton has modified her views on schools?

Listening to her answer Cooper’s question about whether unions protect bad teachers, it was hard to tell. “It really pains me,” she said, to see teachers scapegoated when governments have failed to support their work. “So just to follow up,” Cooper said, “you don’t believe unions protect bad teachers?” Clinton replied, “You know what—I have told my friends at the top of both unions, we’ve got take a look at this because it is one of the most common criticisms. We need to eliminate the criticism. You know, teachers do so much good. They are often working under [the] most difficult circumstances. So anything that could be changed, I want them to look at it. I will be a good partner to make sure that whatever I can do as President, I will do to support the teachers of our country.”

Based on this response, it appears that Clinton does still want to tackle the issue of teacher tenure, but she also wants to support teachers, many of whom are vehemently opposed to seeing their contracts altered. It would have been illuminating if Cooper had pursued this line of questioning and asked Clinton whether she still supports continuing to expand the number of charter schools. Last November, at a town-hall meeting in South Carolina, shortly after she picked up the support of the teachers’ unions, she voiced a line commonly associated with critics of charters. After acknowledging that for thirty years she had “supported the idea of charter schools,” she said, “Most charter schools—I don’t want to say every one—but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids. Or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.”

Coming from someone they had long regarded as a political ally, these comments enraged many people in the charter movement. “That is absolutely false,” Jeanne Allen, the founder of the Center for Education Reform, told the Washington Post. “She sounds like an aloof, élite candidate from a bygone era, before ed reform was a reality.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Newswire: March 8, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 4.46.49 PM

Vol. 18, No. 10

DC IS NUMBER ONE. For the past 20 years the Center’s Charter School Laws Across The States Ranking & Scorecard has employed proven analysis to rank the nation’s charter school laws by whether and how they do what they set out to — create the conditions for massive opportunities for students and famScreen Shot 2016-03-08 at 4.46.49 PMilies to choose among diverse schooling options. DC has been number 1 and we are pleased that this year, our colleagues at the National Alliance have similarly recognized the superiority of a law which has a highly independent authorizer that is not micromanaged by state and local education agencies (though they try), provides for a high number of charters to open, funds its schools at over 95% plus facilities support, and as a result has transformed a city. This should be the model…

While DC has a charter board, it is not a commission in the vein that other states are pondering. Speaking of which…

KENTUCKY & CHARTERS. Kentucky moves a step closer to having charter schools with lawmakers in both the House and Senate submitting bills. Legislation filed allows for a charter pilot program with only two schools allowed per year in two counties, Jefferson and Fayette. It also creates a charter school commission to approve and oversee schools. The Bluegrass State has tried for a charter law numerous times, so while it is good news that Kentucky is this much closer to charter schools, putting a law in place that mimics some of the nation’s best charter school laws would have the potential to do more for more children.

MAKING SCHOLARSHIPS AS IMPACTFUL AS CHARTERS. TheDC_Rally_WS_09 DC Opportunity Scholarship Program has been helping very low-income students for over a decade, with outstanding results. So why wouldn’t John B. King, Jr., Education Secretary nominee, be in support of using $35 million in carry-over funds to help 4,000 more students access an education that will set them up for success? That’s what Senator Tim Scott pondered at King’s hearing two weeks ago. King’s second hearing regarding his Education Secretary nomination takes place tomorrow, March 9.

UNION’S MISPLACED AGENDA. Hillary Clinton, backed by both the AFT and NEA, danced around Anderson Cooper’s question during Sunday’s Democratic debate about whether unions protect bad teachers. She said “a lot of people have been blaming and scapegoating teachers because they don’t want to put money into the school system.” When you take away the spin from the status quo however, 67 percent of teachers are interested in workforce reforms according to AAE’s latest survey. Union endorsements explain Hil’s backflip on charter schools, which she alternatively supported in 1998, saying charter schools were a good way of “bringing teachers, parents and communities together.” One of the union’s latest misguided attacks on charter schools is in Michigan, where AFT President Randi Weingarten is blaming the alternative public schools for Detroit’s financial and academic woes.

At SXSW? Is innovation, freedom, flexibility and opportunity at the heart of the hundreds of panels and discussions going on? If not, now’s your chance to redirect the SXSW agenda to capture the critical intersection of ed tech in ed reform. Without looser school boundaries and rules, education innovation cannot thrive. Without consumer choice, there’s ultimately no buy-in. To read up on or refresh your mind on what it’s all about, read Ted Kolderie’s book The Split Screen Strategy: How to Turn Education Into a Self-Improving System.

COMING SOON. Time for a reboot – CER introduces EDREFORM TEN-POINT-O. Because every effort we undertake for kids must start at 10.

Charter School Bills Filed in Kentucky

Charter school, voucher bills filed

by Allison Ross
March 2, 2013

As widely expected, Republican legislators in both the Kentucky House and Senate have submitted bills just before the filing deadlines to try to bring charter schools to the commonwealth.

In addition, Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Burlington, has filed a bill that would create a school voucher-like program allowing special needs students to redirect per-pupil public school funding to pay for private schools or private tutoring.

Efforts to bring vouchers and charter schools to the Bluegrass State have been going on for years, but with a new Republican governor that has championed charter schools and vouchers and a House that could be moving closer to Republican control, the chances seem greater compared to recent years that such legislation could pass.

Tuesday was the last day for House members to file bills this session, and Thursday is the last day for Senate members to do so.

The charter school bill filed Tuesday by Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, is similar to those he’s filed in previous years.

The bill, SB 253, would essentially create a five-year pilot charter school program in Jefferson and Fayette counties, with a maximum of two charter schools allowed to open per year in each county. It would create a “Kentucky Public Charter School Commission,” which would have members appointed by the governor and could approve charter applications and provide oversight.

Click here to continue reading.

Newswire: March 1, 2016

John King Education secretary hearing

Vol. 18, No. 9

MAKE SUPER TUESDAY COUNT. Whether or not you have voted yet, make your sure the ballot you cast is an informed decision. A vote for expanded educational opportunities is a vote for a great nation. Get educated about what’s at stake, what’s reality and what’s just rhetoric. And with November just around the corner, we will be continuing to help you make sense of the plans that every contender – from president to governor to state lawmaker – has to address improved education. For starters, here’s how to spot a truly reform-minded candidate. Meanwhile, whether today is your day to vote or not, just remember your vote matters. Don’t sit home in the future because you like or don’t like the result today. As we should’ve all learned in grade school, our peace and prosperity requires us all to get informed, get active and get involved!Super Tuesday 2016

ESTABLISHMENT NEVER GIVES UP.  Baltimore charter schools battling for equity were met with tired tactics from the local BLOB, with the filing of a (drumroll…) countersuit that threatens a speedy and much-needed resolution to their case, critically underscoring the importance of passing crucial new legislation on independent authorizers.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 10.07.27 AM

SURVEY SAYS…  Thoughts from the parents of 1,000,000 children sitting on charter school waitlists around the nation were apparently omitted from the results of a new poll that looks to “reign in” (yes, like horses) the schools. No surprise here— the poll, conducted by two AFT affiliates (see: ‘status quo’), disproportionately condemned charters, relying on just a handful of incidents of fraud in schools.

OPPONENTS OUT IN FORCE… The same group with the bogus poll has been busy trying to fight reforms that help kids, with a report out on state takeovers alleging Louisiana’s Recovery School District caused students and communities harm. However, the reality is quite the opposite, with graduation rates rising by nearly 20 percentage points. Thankfully, these “reports” are usually always recognized by the media as biased, but that begs the question of why they’re even getting ink in the first place…

SUB-STANDARD RESEARCH.  Education professors’ comparison of charter schools to subprime mortgages is wildly inaccurate and wildly sub-par. Here’s why.

KING’S OPPORTUNITY. Choice champion and SC US Senator Tim Scott questioned Education Secretary nominee John King about expanding DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which has been helping very low-income children in the nation’s capital for over a decade, as DC children and parents watched on during his hearing last week. “For us not to take a look at this would be a shame,” Scott said to King. We’ve got the video here. The committee will next consider King’s nomination on March 9.John King Education secretary hearing

Inside Kentucky’s charter school debate

Ky. Gov. Matt Bevin vows to make charters reality

by Ben Jackey
February 26, 2016

Charter schools 101

The debate over charter schools has become the biggest question in Kentucky education.

A charter is an independently managed public school operating under a charter, or contract, with a governmental entity or a school board.

The idea is that these schools get to make their own decisions and some state restrictions are lifted to help improve outcomes for struggling students. The answer to whether charter schools work depends on which researcher is asked.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin vows to make charters a reality in Kentucky.

Jefferson County Public Schools lag near the bottom of school districts across the commonwealth.

“My question for Dr. (Donna) Hargens is, ‘Why not try one?’” Kentucky Education Secretary Hal Heiner said.

When asked, Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent Donna Hargens refused to respond to what she called “speculation,” but said she believes school decisions are best left to public school boards.  Proponents argue charters offer choice, but Hargens contends that with 18 magnet schools and 52 magnet and optional programs, JCPS has plenty of options.

“Jefferson County Public Schools offers choices that some people don’t even realize that they have. So, I think the thing that attracts people is the ability to choose. What’s going to be the best fit for my son or daughter?” Hargens said.

“What gets in the way is why we don’t put the children and their needs first. Instead, the adults are first, and I see that so often. It’s like, ‘Don’t move my cheese. I like it just the way it is.’” Heiner said.

Why are the two sides so divided?

Two studies, out of Stanford called CREDO are a prime example of why supporters and opponents on charter schools are so divided.

A CREDO report in 2009 concluded charter students are “not faring as well as their traditional public school counterparts.”

The next CREDO report in 2013 said charters showed “slow and steady progress in the performance of the charter sector.”

There’s also a financial accountability debate.

Located in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Indianapolis, the Tindley Accelerated Schools are examples used by charter school proponents across the country.

The four schools bearing the Tindley name are about 95 percent African-American.

Two perform above state reading averages, two just below.

This month, Tindley schools also became examples pointed to by opponents of charter schools.

The CEO resigned amid criticism about spending on luxury hotels, gym memberships and first class airfare, while the school asked for an $8 million loan.

The Indianapolis mayor’s office oversees 33 charters, including the Tindley schools.

“There were internal controls and other significant deficiencies and material weaknesses that have shown up in their audits and we’ve been documenting schools and to correct them for several years now, and we have seen significant improvement,” Indianapolis Innovation Director Kristin Hines said.

“Would you consider Charters in Indianapolis by and large a success?” WLKY reporter Ben Jackey asked.

“Absolutely,” Hines said.

Time is of the essence

“If we haven’t figured it out, I think we ought to ask, ‘Has anybody figured it out?’ Is there some outside organization that we can bring in that has a different model?” Jefferson County Board of Education chairman David Jones said.

JCPS and Kentucky school districts have the option to bring a charter organization in to run a school.  There wouldn’t be an actual charter contract and the district would manage the organization. Many in the education world consider it charter light and has never been used in Kentucky.

Jones made a monumental move late last year by asking JCPS to look at this option for JCPS priority schools. Jones believes actual charter schools would take too long to be successful in a large district like JCPS. He said whatever the district decides, time is of the essence.

“Louisville can’t wait for Kentucky and we can’t wait for the United States to get this right,” Jones said.

Kentucky is one of just seven states that has not passed charter legislation.