Standing Up for Quality

Speaking of creating an ecosystem for charter school accountability, here is Bill Phillips, president of the Northeast Charter School Network (NECSN) with a call for clear quality standards for charter school renewal and revocation that focus on academic results. Phillips also endorses the closure of a low performing charter, a school he says was “one of Buffalo’s worst-performing public schools – charter or district.” With this endorsement,

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NECSN joins other charter associations like the California Charter Schools Association that have made a commitment to quality and accountability even if it means calling for the closure of their own members. These leading associations recognize that failing charter schools are a threat to all those that are succeeding.

Phillips piece is also important because it demonstrates how components of the charter school accountability ecosystem other than authorizers–in this case, a regional charter school support organization–can help to hold authorizers accountable for how the quality of their own performance impacts the likelihood that a failing school faces consequences for its failure.

Phillips applauds the New York State Board of Regents for making “a painful but correct” decision to close a failing charter and for demonstrating that they “care more about

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academic results than regulatory compliance.” At the same time, though, he argues that the Regents could make accountability more likely by making it more fair and predictable. Phillips argues that clear renewal ground rules and consistent feedback could help keep closure fights out of the courts and minimize the ability of low-performing schools to defend themselves with attacks on the process. He encourages the regents to “consider copying the approach used with the State University and UFT Charter School in Brooklyn” where “as part of a multi-year renewal, SUNY told the school precisely how many academic measures it had to meet in order to apply for its next contract. If the school falls short, it automatically closes.” He says “this is fairer to both parties” and will result in a better process overall.

It is this kind of courageous call for quality and accountability that is at the heart of NACSA’s One Million Lives campaign.