The Marcus Garvey Academy, a Cleveland charter school already slated to close at the end of this school year, instead closed its doors today, February 20.  The closure leaves approximately 100 students without a school with a little more than half of the school year remaining.  These young students lives will be disrupted just a few months before they were scheduled to take the state’s standardized tests to measure the school’s impact on their educational progress.

This is so weird, isn’t it?  I mean, I thought public schools had a responsibility to offer a free education to residents.  And charter schools ARE public schools, aren’t they?  At least that’s what all the charter school proponents keep saying.

Anyway, the publicly-financed Marcus Garvey Academy apparently has no obligation to assist these displaced students.  But there are others targeting these students:

Other charter schools have been calling Marcus Garvey parents, trying to persuade them to transfer their children, said Brian Fiore, a teacher and school improvement coach.

(Plain Dealer, 2/3/12)

What will these children will do when those other charters shut down?  They will simply enroll in REAL public schools:

  • Public schools that won’t shut down mid-year.
  • Public schools that provide an education to all children.
  • Public schools that are overseen by taxpayer-elected officials, not private management companies.
  • Public schools that aren’t focused on profit margins.

Consider this: while the Ohio Department of Education may have the authority to close both charter and public schools, they do not have the same authority to open them.  If a district closes a school, they can’t simply ignore the children who are enrolled — they must provide classes for those students somewhere else in the district.  But when a charter school permanently shuts it doors, the charter school must….nothing.  Charters NEVER have a responsibility to provide classrooms for residents — they are private businesses that can close up shop if they are no longer profitable.  The Ohio Department of Education can’t demand that a private charter school open a school in a certain location, but a school district MUST if the student population demands it.

The fact is, every student who lives within a district’s boundaries is the responsibility of that school district, regardless of where the parents choose to send them.  If every private charter school spontaneously shut down, the local district would be responsible for taking them in — it’s not a choice.

And that simple clarification of a school’s responsibility to the children in the community is how we can distinguish between private charter schools and public school districts.

It’s probable that grown-ups are losing money over the Marcus Garvey debacle, but without a doubt there are children suffering a major disruption to their learning environment.

Money can be replaced.

  • 2 Questions. 1. What has the Marcus Gravey’s school report card look like?
    2. Were they in academic watch or what? Isn’t this what we the real public schools been saying about charter schools all along? Ooops that’s three questions.

  • OHknighty

    Charter schools = tax robbers. Profits were made by robbing us. Screw children, screw their parents…..mission accomplished.

  • gregmild

    Their report card improved dramatically a couple years ago.

    From October 2010: 
    The Ohio Department of Education is moving to strip the Cleveland-based Ashe Culture Center of its authority to sponsor charter schools.Among a raft of reasons given by ODE: Ashe has failed to act on evidence of “improper test taking” at Marcus Garvey Academy, a charter school on East 105th Street that vaulted into the state’s excellent ranking based on last year’s state test scores.

  • Anastasjoy

    Like I needed to be more pissed off after a weekend of Santorum. I cannot even imagine how these kids will be able to get anything from this school year, suddenly tossed mid-year into a new environment with new teachers, new classmates, new rooms, new books, new curriculum, new routes to school — total disruption. I think back to my school years, and I know that stability was a large part of being able to focus on schoolwork. You knew you would have the same teacher and classroom all year. You knew you’d have the same patrol boy at 75th and Chappell. You knew you weren’t going to be tossed into a new school in the middle of the year. The most disruptive thing that ever happened was when they swept in and took down all the museum cases in the hall after the Our Lady of the Angels school fire.

  • Dmoore2222

    What a shame. But very predictable when you mate profiteering to education.

  • lrs63

    What company profited from this venture? That is the question we should be asking.The first reaction is to blame the students, then the state but what about the company that didn’t deliver on the goods it promised.

    Ohio suffered through a failed charter school company called White Hat that sucked up money and didn’t perform to expectations. It had to be sued to recover the funds it had over-charged the state. 

    Does anyone know the standards that charter schools have to meet to qualify for funding? Who are the companies behind the schools? What makes them qualified to do this “business”? Taxpayers deserve to know these things.

    As a homeschooling parent, I had to meet qualifications. I had to produce an outline of my curriculum with stated goals and a reference list of texts and materials I used. My child took the required standard tests and received a GED as well. All this we did without one nickle of government funding which would have been nice but not worth the strings attached it would come with.

  • lrs63

     Not all charter schools are alike.Some do very well others do not.
    We need to know how they receive their licensing. Do politics bare any influence on who gets the contracts?
    This isn’t rocket science.

    How are the state standards met?

    You can bet there is big money involved in those contracts.Wouldn’t it be better to invest in the public schools doing what we know succeeds? We do know what succeeds, don’t we?

  • lrs63

     You hit the nail on the head. These are good questions about accountability. Kasich needs to do some explaining. So much for private enterprise in education. Free market education is not the answer. It allows the students to become pawns in a risky game.
    Sometimes the stakes are so high that the teachers might be instructed to allow cheating or grade manipulation to insure a contract renewal. This is just plain wrong.

  • Sonya

     Charters, unlike traditional schools, are funded based on month to month attendance. Mid year closing are rare. Marcus Garvey was a nonprofit.

  • Sonya

     Funny because there is no “Count Week” for charters, only traditional schools.

  • Sonya

    You didn’t mention that the highest performing schools for these children to move in to are other area charters.

  • gregmild

    How are the summer payments calculated?  July, August, September?

    MGA was paid based on the monthly enrollment from the prior ending year, but then in the first “real” count of students for the year the enrollment was nearly half of that total.
    And their sponsor, Ashe Culture Center, was getting their 3% sponsor fee ($26,915), but for what?  MGA was repeatedly labeled as “unauditable” by the State Auditor of Ohio, and the most recent report dated 1/10/2012 states “the Academy had its funding suspended in April, 2011 by the Ohio Department of Education due to their inability to provide financial records.”

    This isn’t the charter school that you want to be running to defend.

  • Our education system needs a massive overhaul. This is not it. Charters are a cancer in our cities. 

  • Anastasjoy

    In Cleveland? Not true. There are a handful of good-performing charter schools, but it’s unlikely they would have enough open slots for all these kids, even if they were located conveniently to the kids from Marcus Garvey, which based on looking at the map I don’t think they are. The highest performing schools in Cleveland are public schools like John Hay, the School of the Arts, and the new International Baccalaureate school.

  • Thank you for sharing this article. I love it. Keep on writing this type of great stuff.

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