by David Safier
Six charter schools in St. Louis run by Imagine Schools (which runs 14 schools in Arizona) are closing because of poor performance, thanks in good part to the St. Louis media which has been investigating the Imagine charters for years. It looks like EdisonLearning, another national company that runs charters in St. Louis, may be leaving as well. The mayor's office says, good riddance.
Robbyn Wahby, education liaison for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said the change is a good sign. "The idea here is perform or close."
"Perform or close" is a motto I would like to see Arizona look at when it comes to charter schools. Our wild west, regulation-and-oversight-free system of charter schools -- including granting them a 20 year license before they come up for renewal -- has helped create and sustain charters that have no reason to exist.
NOTE TO "WHAT ABOUT DISTRICT SCHOOLS?" COMMENTERS: Closing poor performing district schools is a different issue, since the schools are geographically situated to serve student populations and have to take all applicants. Charters, on the other hand, pop up where people decide to build them, and they can be closed without leaving neighborhoods without schools. We should do everything we can to improve poor district schools, but except in a few cases, closing them is not a reasonable option.