Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Parents Say They'd Like To Keep Their Kids At Shuttered Ball State Charter Schools

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

The Timothy L. Johnson Academy in southeast Fort Wayne is one of seven schools whose charter Ball State University won't renew.

Parents whose students attended the charter schools Ball State University won’t sponsor next year aren’t sure where they’ll enroll their kids next, reports Sarah Janssen for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Mary Staples has been a strong supporter of Imagine MASTer Academy, but she feels she’s in limbo now, pulled between her desire to send her kids to the school and her need to plan ahead. Ball State University decided not to renew the charters for Imagine MASTer Academy and two other Fort Wayne charter schools because of their poor academic performances.

Officials at the local schools who lost charters say they still hope to find other sponsors to keep their doors open this fall.

Staples is holding out hope, but still making arrangements for her two children for next year if the school closes.

“For so many parents … this is their choice,” she said. “I’m really hopeful somebody will step up.”

Last summer after the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office pulled its sponsorship of The Project School, we wrote the school likely wouldn’t be the last Indiana charter to close. Then in January, Ball State announced it would pull its support of seven low-performing schools.

Charter School of the Dunes in Gary found a new sponsor, Calumet College, and will remain open. Five of the other schools asked Ball State to reconsider, but the Office of Charter Schools rejected those appeals last week. It’s unclear if those schools will be able to find new sponsors before the next school year begins.

It’s possible parents at the shuttered Ball State schools will take their cues from the former Indianapolis Project School: After attempts to save the charter failed, a small group of parents started a new school, Project Libertas. The State Board of Education granted the school freeway accreditation earlier this month.

But advocates of heightened accountability for charters say over time, parents will become more comfortable with the idea of closing low-performing schools.

“One of the best strategies instead to serve communities well is to go ahead and close bad charter schools, continue to open new ones and it’s through managing a group of schools that the community gets access to the best education for its kids,” says Alex Medler, vice president of research for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, told StateImpact. “If people think of the school as the focus and they want to keep schools open, then kids aren’t well served.”


  • Karynb9

    I actually agree wholeheartedly with closing charter schools that aren’t performing. However, I just question how this fits into the philosophy of many in the charter school and voucher movement that these schools are necessary because “market forces” are needed to provide competition to regular public schools so parents are able to vote with their feet if they dislike their boundary-area public school, thus requiring the public school to strive for excellence. Parents deserve to have a variety of options so they can choose the school that is best for their child. So, is it or isn’t it about “school choice”? If parents continue to “choose” this particular school even if outsiders view it as a “failing school,” then hasn’t the “market” spoken and shouldn’t the school stay open? Are school choice backers only in favor of parents getting to choose options that government entities decide are “successful” according to THEIR measurements? Doesn’t that contradict the philosophy of allowing the market to determine whether or not a school is successful?

  • Jenny

    In Chicago, massive numbers of public neighborhood schools are slated to close. Parents do not want those schools closed, any more than the parents mentioned in this article. Communities deserve well-funded and equitable neighborhood schools. I believe in transparency, and I also think that communities should be able to judge the performance of their own schools. Kids deserve stable schools rooted in their communities, not “churn”–schools that spring up like mushrooms and then do no better than the schools that have been shut down. This is why I don’t believe that the charter school model helps. We don’t need a cheap labor force of new teachers who are worked too hard and burn out quickly.

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