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Article of Interest - Charter Schools

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AYP for Charter School Management Companies?

Schools managed by six companies fail to perform as well as low-scoring traditional public schools.
The Associated Press, October 26, 2003
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) Six companies responsible for teaching 17,000 Michigan's charter school students fail to produce test scores that match even low-scoring traditional public schools, records show.

The companies manage about $123.7 million in tax money each year.

The low-performing companies include three of the biggest for-profit charter school managers in the state, The Detroit News said Sunday.

They are Mosaica Foundation, The Leona Group and Charter School Administration Services. Together, they manage schools with more than a quarter of the 63,000 students in charter schools in the state.

The other three are Alpha-Omega Education Management, Black Star Education Management and CAN Associates, which have one school each.

The students at these schools often fall far below minimum standards in reading, writing and math, state education records show. The companies' schools also spend a smaller share of their budgets in the classroom than others.

In the 10 Michigan schools run by Mosaica Education, only two of every five fourth-graders was able to read as well as the state says they should. And one in five met the state's minimum standards in writing and math, according to the Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests.

One of those schools, Detroit Advantage Academy on the city's west side, fired Mosaica last year after board members complained that the company was not making promised improvements, missed reporting deadlines and failed to give school board members timely updates on how tax money was being spent.

Mosaica and other management companies say they take their own measurements of students' progress, and each claims to be making gains. Companies contend parents who aren't satisfied would leave. Enrollment waiting lists, they say, are evidence of success.

There was no answer Sunday at Mosaicas office in New York.

Management companies oversee nearly every aspect of 151 of the state's 200 charter schools, including what is taught and who teaches it, making Michigan one of the nation's biggest venues for private control of public education.

The state leaves oversight of the schools to the universities and other institutions that charter them. The state Department of Education lacks a full list of which companies run charters in Michigan, the newspaper said.

"Nobody has asked whether they're doing a decent job," said Nancy Van Meter, the director of the American Federation of Teachers' Center on Privatization. "Nobody has a handle on this, and it's a question taxpayers in Michigan need to ask: Are you satisfied with this use of your tax dollars?"

    

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