A move to shut down bad charter schools

by David Safier

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) wants to shut down underperforming charter schools around the country, as many as one in five charters. This isn't a new idea. The Arizona Charter School Association has been pushing for some charter school housecleaning for years.

The NACSA makes it sound like lots of charters should be made to shut their doors.

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers said 900 to 1,300 of the privately run, publicly financed schools should close because they are in the bottom 15 percent of public schools in their states.

The association is calling for greater oversight by the people who grant schools charters, which is an excellent idea. However, Arizona's charter school oversight rules are toothless by design. The "invisible hand of the marketplace" is supposed to take care of bad schools. The problem is, for a number of reasons, schools aren't the kind of consumer good where a parent or child can make an informed decision. That being said, according to the article 10% of AZ charter schools that came up for renewal last year were closed. I don't know the details, so it's hard to judge the significance of the 10% figure.

This move toward greater oversight and accountability may be for show, or it may be for real. If we start seeing charters closing down in greater numbers, it will be very interesting to see what part of the student population was served by the schools that get closed down.

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