A new report released yesterday on charter schools finds that California has the highest number of charter schools closed in the country.
The Center for Education Reform, an advocacy group that supports charter schools, reports that of the 1,100 or so approved in California, 187 have closed -- about 17 percent. Nationwide, 15 percent of approximately 6,700 charter schools have closed, according to "The State of Charter Schools" (PDF) report.
Just last week, the California Charter Schools Association called for the closure of 10 under-performing schools, including two in the Bay Area: Leadership High in San Francisco and West County Community High in Richmond.
The Center for Education Reform argues that the closure rates prove charter schools are actually held to higher standards than traditional public schools.
“They must demonstrate achievement or they can go out of business, which means they’ve got a finite period of time by which they can show results,” Jeanne Allen, President of the Center for Education Reform, said.
But accountability measures differ state by state, according to the former dean of Stanford’s School of Education, Deborah Stipek.
“It varies substantially across states. I know for a fact that there are some states where charter schools are monitored not very well,” Stipek said. “California happens to be one of the states that monitors them quite closely.”
The education reform group gives California laws an “A-” compared to other states'.
“Even though 15 percent of the nation’s charter schools have closed, it tells us that this is a movement we need to copy and model, not that we should malign,” said the Center for Education Reform's Allen.
But others say the numbers don’t provide the whole story.
“Instead of thinking about how many [charter] schools do we close, [we should be] thinking about how do we increase the capacity and develop the capacity of schools to be more effective,” Stanford's Stipek said, calling for more funding, teachers who are less overworked, and stricter accountability for those states that regulate charter schools with lax laws.