Charter School Shuts Down, Pushes Kids Out, Keeps Tax Money: Another Shining Success from Those Who Would “Reform” MPS?!

By Scott Farnsworth

In an April 5th article, the Shepherd Express reported on yet another failed for-profit charter school in Milwaukee – you know, another of those schools that are going to provide Milwaukee students with a high-quality education. In this case:

“Milwaukeeans were shocked to find out that the troubleNorth Point Lighthouse Charter School gave parents just a few days’ notice in February that it would shut down three grades before closing down entirely at the end of the school year

“[T]he school, chartered by the City of Milwaukee, will keep the state aid for the estimated 60 students who have been transferred from the school, even though they won’t finish the school year there. Most of them apparently are now enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools, which won’t be compensated for teaching them. In fact, because of the way the state funds public schools, MPS likely won’t be compensated for teaching the former North Point Lighthouse students for another two years…

“The student count for state aid was conducted on Friday, Jan. 8. On Friday, Jan. 15, the board of North Point Lighthouse Charter School informed the City of Milwaukee’s Charter School Review Committee that it would relinquish its charter at the end of the academic year. On Feb. 22, it sent letters to parents letting them know that grades five through seven would shut down just days later, on Feb. 26.

“So according to state law, North Point Lighthouse Charter School, part of the national Lighthouse Academies chain, can keep the funds for the kids that attended on Jan. 8 but were turned out on Feb. 26.

“This academic year, independent charter schools receive $8,079 per pupil from the state…

 Little Oversight from Appointed Committee 

“Although North Point Lighthouse’s closure is a major issue for students and the affected schools, there’s been little discussion of it in city government.

“The City of Milwaukee charters 10 schools, which are overseen by the all-appointee Charter School Review Committee (CSRC). The CSRC accepts and evaluates schools, and sends its recommendations to the Common Council’s Steering and Rules Committee and ultimately to the council itself.

In years past, the CSRC met infrequently, held its meetings at Marquette University, didn’t allow public testimony and didn’t post meeting agendas or minutes on the city’s website.

“The CSRC has become more transparent in the past year or so, thanks to the ongoing efforts of academic accountability advocates and city leaders’ growing realization that the schools need more oversight. 

“Still, the closure of North Point Lighthouse Charter School has received little attention from the committee that is supposed to oversee it and ensure that its students are receiving a high-quality education…

“The gatekeeper to the CSRC and the city’s charter program is the Institute for the Transformation of Learning (ITL), launched by school privatization advocate Howard Fuller and housed at Marquette University. Its liaison to the CSRC, Jarett Fields, emailed that the school has been working to transition students to new schools. ‘It is not the practice of the CSRC to track students attending non-Common Council authorized schools.’

“Open records requests sent to Fields regarding the taxpayer-funded North Point Lighthouse Charter School were rebuffed by Marquette Associate General Counsel Jeffrey Kipfmueller, who wrote, ‘As Marquette is a private university […] Marquette is exempt from record requests such as yours.’”

(Kaiser, Lisa. Shepherd Express, “Charter School Begins Shutting Down – Students are Pushed Out”, 04/05/16)

You can read the complete article at: http://shepherdexpress.com/article-27603-charter-school-begins-shutting-down%25E2%2580%2594students-are-pushed-out.html

No oversight, no accountability, no responsibility – and this is a “national” chain!

To add to the irony, MPS announced this week that, “Eight MPS high schools have earned a spot on national top school lists from U.S. News and World Report and the Washington Post, according to the 2016 lists released this week, up from seven last year.

It takes a state and national organization to combat the financial interests that look to maximize profits by running ineffective and low-quality programs for students.  It is this type of disservice to the children of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the rest of the country that we must unite against.  You add your voice by being a KEA/WEAC/NEA member.  Thank you.