Failing Charter Schools Shut Down. Why Don’t Failing Zoned Schools?

May 10, 2022

Imagine if traditional public schools were held accountable like charter schools are.

It’s National Charter Schools Week, and we’re talking about the robust accountability system in place for charter schools – and the utter absence of accountability in traditional public schools.

Last week, the State Board of Education ordered Torchlight Academy shuttered. The charter school’s financials were a mess, there appeared to be serious nepotism at play in contracting decisions, and the school apparently played fast and loose with regulations governing its education of students with special needs.

The termination order is the right decision. By all accounts, Torchlight Academy failed to meet state regulatory standards. The Department of Public Instruction noticed suspect behavior, launched an investigation, and eventually the State Board of Education revoked Torchlight’s charter. This is the accountability system working exactly as it’s supposed to.

Note the State Board of Education didn’t just order the school operator fired, or take aim at a few administrators. The Board shut down the entire school and transferred students to other schools that can better serve them.

Imagine if traditional public schools were held accountable for their actions and performance like charter schools are. Instead of closing failing public schools, though, the bureaucracy just says they need more money. They keep kids trapped in underperforming schools in perpetuity.

Just look at what happened at Hawthorne Academy High School in Charlotte as an example of how seriously the bureaucracy “oversees” traditional public schools. Multiple media outlets reported the high school suspended students who reported sexual assaults on campus. Yes, you read that right. The high school allegedly suspended students who reported they were victims of sexual assault.

How did the bureaucracy respond? By just reassigning the principal to a different job. No wholesale house-cleaning. No real explanation to parents and students. No legitimate attempt to reform what appears to be a very misguided culture among faculty at Hawthorne Academy High School. Oh, and the public school board in Charlotte gave the superintendent a half-million dollar retirement bonus after all this.

This is how seriously the bureaucrats take malfeasance at traditional public schools.

If only every school were subject to the rigorous accountability in place for charter schools. Maybe then kids wouldn’t be trapped in failing schools.