Family feud

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Sarah Carr is asking all the right questions about charter schools. How much autonomy should they be allowed, and, if they're not performing up to standards, are authorizers willing (and should they be willing) to close them down? Consider the Truth Institute for Leadership and Service, a Milwaukee charter school with "abysmal" test scores but strong relationships with contented parents. When the city's school board moved to close it, one parent complained that "now the relationship is being broken by someone who is not even in the family." Or, as Kati Haycock of the Education Trust put it, "There's a war for the soul of the charter movement under way." Perhaps so, but it's asymmetric. Sure, on one side there are plenty of lousy schools that want to stay open, and more than a few charter authorizers unwilling to shut them down. But, on the other side, virtually every leader in the charter movement believes that schools should get results or vanish. School Board member Ken Johnson says it best: "If we are talking about a school that's not achieving, we are talking about children who are not achieving. We don't get a chance to do this right the second time."

"Educators spar over goal of charter schools," by Sarah Carr, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, August 2, 2006