July 15, 2020

Seeing the speck in the charter school eye while ignoring the beam in the district’s

There is a national movement that aims to pass legislation across the country to make charter schools more transparent. Teachers’ unions, the NAACP, foundations, and various strategic communications folks are pushing the narrative that charters are running amuck, awash in fraud, mismanagement, and questionable leadership practices.

People with integrity will have no problem with anything that makes entities receiving public dollars accountable to the public; so the push for accountability in charters isn’t the end of the world.

But it isn’t an honest push and the people promoting it lack integrity. Let’s call things what they are.

What I called “a national movement” above is actually a strategic plan for supporters of traditional district schools. They want to stem the growth of charters as a competitive response.

Nothing makes that claim more visible to me than the lack of any interest on the part of the charter accountability hawks when it comes to misdeeds in traditional districts and schools.

I was a school board member. I know how the bodies are buried.

I know how serial meetings can skirt open meeting law; how to post meetings at the last minute so interested parties won’t attend; how to have board retreats in place that journalists aren’t likely to come.

Here’s today’s contribution to that story. It comes from the Columbus Dispatch:

The Columbus Board of Education has not only been interviewing a secret list of candidates to become the next district superintendent, but it has added names not on the list of 19 applicants it released in December.

The board also has been allowing a consultant to keep documents to avoid the Ohio Public Records Act and has been making official board decisions in potentially illegal private meetings, district emails — released to The Dispatch under a records request — reveal.

After promising a transparent process, the board scheduled interviews for seven potential superintendent candidates that occurred between Jan. 8-10. According to emails, they included: current Acting Superintendent John Stanford; former district deputy superintendent Keith Bell, who later took a post in suburban Cleveland; Errick Greene, chief of schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and David James, superintendent of Akron City Schools.

But the board also held get-togethers with three candidates whom the district did not name when it released the list of applicants in December. The board called those “meetings” rather than “interviews,” the term they used for the four candidates who actually applied.

The district released applications from new candidates, some with dates before the Dec. 8 deadline but who weren’t on the list of candidates that the board released Dec. 11. New applicants include: Robert Haworth, superintendent of Elkhart Community Schools in Indiana; Michael Conran, superintendent of Global Education Excellence in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Corwin Robinson, principal of St. Tammany Parish Schools in Mandeville, Louisiana; and Jesse Pratt, academic improvement officer for Indianapolis Public Schools.

Read the whole story here.

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