One of the things that you get with a pubic school that you do not get with a charter schools is a promise, a long term commitment to stay in place and keep your doors open. Folks in the Mahoning Valley (near Youngstown, Ohio and Sharon, Pennsylvania) were reminded of that as yet another charter school closed its doors with the year well under way.
Mahoning Valley Opportunity Center always faced a challenge. It was started as a school for students who were in academic distress, and just a year ago it was in the news because of a student assault on a teacher. The school is sponsored by the Youngstown School District, a sponsor which earned a "poor" rating and became part of the list of Ohio naughty sponsors that faced a possible closing this fall.
The high school handled just 84 students. 71 of those students were non-white and reportedly 0% were free or reduced lunch students. And while these students were at risk, boy, was MVOC unsuccessful with them. The school was academically ranked 694th in the state; its graduation rate ranked 702nd.So, not doing great.
Staff and faculty, speaking without disclosing identities, told local news that they had felt something was up since the beginning of the year, that the school had been long mismanaged, and that Superintendent David Macali had other plans for the school.
So two nights ago, the operators of the school voted to shut it down, and yesterday morning, at least one student was at the front door, wondering what she was supposed to do now. Of course, part of "empowering" families is that the state and the charter school get to wash their hands of any responsibilities for these students. Did your charter school close? Well, the state of Ohio has empowered you to go solve the problem yourself. Congratulations.
The stated reason was money. It no longer made business sense to keep MVOC open, and since charter schools are ultimately businesses, it is business-based decisions that rule the day. Not student based, not community based, and not education based. Charter schools are businesses, and businesses close when it suits them. Food trucks do not factor in how badly the community needs a place to eat-- only whether they can profit by serving that community. One more reason that modern charters are a bad fit for education.