The bad news continues for Imagine Schools


by David Safier

Three Imagine charter schools are closing in Indiana, two in Fort Wayne and one in Indianapolis. Ball State University sponsored the charters and decided not to renew because of poor academic performance and the schools' failure to indicate they were making changes that would lead to improvement.

This adds to a long list of forced closings of Imagine charter schools. Six were closed in St. Louis in June. Imagine is based on a growth model, and if schools are closing, not only is the corporation shrinking, but other communities are less likely to agree to open new ones.

Arizona's Imagine schools are comparatively healthy educationally. That doesn't mean they're doing great, but they don't seem to be educational sinkholes like some schools in other areas. But their financial structure looks unsustainable; Imagine seems to be losing money on most of the schools, though their strange bookkeeping makes it hard to know exactly what's going on. The for-profit corporation's model, taken from the world of energy conglomerates which is where its CEO came from (think Enron), is particularly ill suited to the world of education. Watch for a continued crumbling of the Imagine empire.