Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Indiana has about 2% of their students in charter schools....guess what % Ohio has in their charter schools?

From John Curry, March 13, 2012

"Indiana has about 22,000 students in charter schools, or about 2 percent of children in public school. That's less than the national average of about 3 percent and much less than neighboring states like Michigan (6 percent) and Ohio (nearly 9 percent). Roughly half of Indiana's charter school students attend schools in Indianapolis."
[Note from John....Mr. White Hat, Mr. Kasich, Mr. Huffman and ALEC ought to be proud, eh?]
All-boys school to open as Indianapolis' charters plot growth
Written by Scott Elliott

A second Tindley charter school -- the city's first all-boys school -- will open this fall, a harbinger of a coming expansion of charter schools in Indianapolis.

EdPower, the non-profit group that runs the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School, named a principal and unveiled drawings for Tindley Prep, a middle school for up to 400 boys on a 21-acre campus at 42nd Street and Sherman Drive. The property formerly was owned St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church.

The school is but one of several applications coming from EdPower and the leading edge of a that will see a the city's charter schools grow by nearly 20 percent next year.

The group has applications in to Mayor Greg Ballard's office for two more middle schools -- another for boys and one for girls in 2013. The organization's CEO, Marcus Robinson, said three more applications will follow, all for single-gender schools. EdPower's long-term goal, he said, is 14 charter schools operating under its banner by 2023. That count does not include Arlington High School, which EdPower will operate next year following state takeover from Indianapolis Public Schools.

The proliferation small, high quality charters serving a niche population can only be good for Indianapolis, Robinson said. But quality will really count.

"The question now," Robinson, said, "is do we set a bar of accountability that says, 'this is the level we expect in this city, whether you are a charter school or a traditional school?' "

EdPower's ambitions aren't the only force driving a push for more charters.

The mayor currently sponsors 22 charter schools enrolling about 9,400 students, while Ball State sponsors four Indianapolis schools.

But Ballard's office also has approved a second Christel House charter school aimed at dropouts and a new state charter school board, created by the Indiana legislature last year, has signed off on four more charters for the city next school year. Ball State University -- Indiana's other major charter sponsor -- will sponsor Indianapolis' Fall Creek Academy, which was dropped by the mayor.

Factoring in the loss of Fountain Square Academy, which will close at the end of the school year that's a net gain of five new charters.

Meanwhile, the Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based school reform organization, is working in partnership with Ballard's office on a charter school incubator aimed at attracting high quality charter school operators to the city.

In June, the incubator will offer three $1 million grants to groups that want to start new schools. The Mind Trust is considering 35 applications, including 31 from out of state. Ballard has estimated the effort could seed 20 new charter schools serving 6,000 more students.

"Competition is good in schools," Ballard said. "It works."

IPS school board president Mary Busch declined comment on the mayor's charter push when reached Tuesday.

Indiana has about 22,000 students in charter schools, or about 2 percent of children in public school. That's less than the national average of about 3 percent and much less than neighboring states like Michigan (6 percent) and Ohio (nearly 9 percent). Roughly half of Indiana's charter school students attend schools in Indianapolis.

IPS in 2011 was ranked 11th in the U.S. by the Alliance for Public Charter Schools with 22 percent of public school students who attend charters. That ranking has been growing slowly. The prior year, the district was 13th at 19 percent. But a gain of about 10 percentage points -- the kind of jump that is possible with such a direct push from the mayor and others -- could quickly vault IPS into the top five.

That growth, however, will require vigilant oversight, said Beth Bray, who heads Ballard's charter school office. Sponsors need close coordination to ensure the charter schools the approve don't flounder. So far, she thinks that's working well.

"We don't want it to become the wild west of charter schools," she said. "It's our responsibility for overseeing schools and holding them accountable."

If they can do that, Ballard said, groundbreaking opportunities for kids -- like a boys school -- can be matched to students who will thrive in them.

"Charter schools fill a void in a terrific way," he said. "Growth in charters schools is really a result of those who are passionate about educating."

As much as Beatrice Beverly thinks Tindley Accelerated School was a good fit for her son, seventh grade Tiler, she thinks the new boys school will be a perfect match. He will transfer there next year.

"With our child, we recognize he needs structure without all the extracurriculars -- girls -- in his face," she said. "This will mean more focus. It will be amazing."

Tindley math teacher Patrick Jones, named principal of the new school, said a single gender school can give teachers the freedom to inspire boys without embarrassing them.

"Suppose I have a boy who wants to work but he is lethargic," he said. "I can go up to him and say, 'man up!' and tell him an inspirational quote. It's a tough love situation. But if a girl is sitting nearby. He might be embarrassed. He might respond differently."

Robinson said Tindley's test data shows boys consistently score about 9 points behind girls. The single gender schools aim to erase that deficit.

"We think this age is where boys need the most social development and care," he said.

Beverly agrees. An IPS product who started her Genesis Solutions, an IT company, said she had always expected to send Tiler to a private school, which in her mind would assure high quality instruction. But then her nephew was in the first graduating class at Tindley. She decided to check it out.

"Not only do they teach kids, they care about kids," she said. "And they hold them accountable."

Call Star reporter Scott Elliott at (317) 444-6494.

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