I remember back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when charter schools were first invented. Advocates (then including me) said they would be more accountable than public schools, because if they didn’t get academic results they promised, they would close. They would also save money because they would cost less than real public schools. Turns out none of this is true. Charter schools fight for equal funding with public schools, and now we know they fight against any accountability. Even failing charter schools get renewed.

When charters close because of financial scandal or academic failure, they are typically replaced by another charter.

When a charter school fails to meet its goals, its charter should be revoked and it should be returned to the public schools to be run by professionals, not amateurs.

Greg Windle writes in The Notebook about the decision by the Philadelphia school board to renew a failing charter school. Parents thought the bad old days of the state-dominated School Reform Commission were over. SRC thought that charters were always the answer to every problem.

He writes:

After the Board of Education meeting Thursday night, many longtime activists in the audience felt as if they had returned to the days of the board’s predecessor, the School Reform Commission. The most controversial vote reversed the SRC’s 2017 decision to close Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School for years of poor and declining academics, instead granting it a one-year extension.

This charter had gotten an extension in 2017 despite poor performance. The school met no standards in any of the three categories—academic, organizational, or financial.The SRC voted not to renew on October 4, 2017:

From the 2017 Renewal Report:


Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School was part of the 2014-15 renewal cohort. In spring of 2015, the CSO recommended the Charter School for a one-year renewal with conditions due to declining academic performance in years 3 and 4 of the charter term. The SRC did not take action on the 2014-15 renewal recommendation because the CSO and the Charter School did not reach agreement on the terms of a renewal charter agreement. During the 2016-17 school year, the CSO supplemented the 2014-15 comprehensive renewal evaluation with data and information from the years since the 2014-15 evaluation was conducted; primarily the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years for academic success and financial health and sustainability and through the current school year, 2016-17, for organizational compliance and viability. The Charter School’s performance in the most recent years reflects continued declines in academic success and financial health and sustainability performance and sustained non-compliance for organizational requirements. The Charter School has not demonstrated an improvement in academic performance; proficiency scores are below comparison groups in both 2014-15 and 2015-16 and proficiency rates declined in English Language Arts (ELA) and Science in 2015-16.Furthermore, the Charter School did not meet the growth standard in any subject in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. The Charter School continued to not meet the standard for organizational viability and compliance and now only approaches the standard for financial health and sustainability in 2016-17 due to related party, inaccurate attendance reporting and financial transaction concerns. Based on the aggregate review of performance in the three domains, the Charter School is recommended for revocation.