I haven’t carefully studied the strange case of Challenges, Choices and Images charter school. But then again, the facts seems so stark that I’m not sure I need to. In voting 7-0 to keep open a school that is by all measures failing, the Denver school board would seem to be doing the equivalent of keeping a ripening corpse on life support to make the family feel better.
Will Denver never close a charter school, no matter how hideous its performance? It is beginning to seem that way. The board’s reluctance to pull the trigger actually tarnishes even the city’s stellar charters. Unlike the Life Skills charter, which the district had valid reasons to spare, CCI students would have other options, which couldn’t possibly be worse. (Could they?)
Never mind that the school will have a new leader, governing board, chalk, fresh paint on the walls, fresh-cut flowers in every classroom, whatever. The fact that this school will remain open is, to quote Woody Allen (that well-known school reformer), a travesty of a mockery of a sham.
The impressive new DPS School Performance Framework ranks CCI as one of the four worst elementary schools in the city, the second-worst middle school, and the single worst high school See the data here ). CCI is not a new school: its CSAP results have been in sharp decline since 2005, and were not particularly good back then.
In 2007, not a single student was proficient in 8th grade math or writing, and just 8% were proficient in reading; in 10th grade again zero in math, 3% in writing and 21% in reading. I can hardly wait to see the 2007-08 numbers. On CCI’s School Accountability Report the school ranked low in every category, and was in decline in both elementary and middle, with a significant decline in high school.
And did you notice that I haven’t even mentioned the juicy stuff yet? The "mixing public and private dollars, hiring convicted felons and bouncing paychecks to its teachers," to quote the dailies?
The stringent corrective actions the board is now forcing upon the school are probably a couple of years too late. I guess it took a full-blown crisis, like having the assistant principal arrested for buying crack (not his first arrest by a long shot) to force some action.
I hope CCI becomes the next Denver School of Science and Technology. But I’m no David Blaine: I’m not holding my breath.
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