As the end of the school year quickly approaches, we start to get a clearer picture of what the next year will look like. We have learned already that a couple of charter schools may not be around next year.
Lighthouse East Charter School announced that it would be permanently closing its doors at the end of this school year due to poor academic performance and declining enrollment. The school’s board came to this decision on their own. There is another Lighthouse school on the south side that has performed better than its eastside counterpart and thus will remain open.
Indianapolis Academy of Excellence will likely close after the Indiana Charter School Board decided not to renew their charter 4-1. The decision was based on dwindling enrollment, low test scores, losing the backing of TeamCFA, and financial difficulties. The school can seek another authorizer if they wish, but that would be difficult and require outside approval.
Due to heightened sensitivities and political tensions, it would be easy for school choice advocates to take issue with two established charter schools closing, but we shouldn’t. As a matter of fact, it should be encouraged because this means the system is working as planned. The school choice movement was meant to give students options other than failing traditional public schools. It was not meant to replace failing traditional schools with failing charter schools.
In a perfect school-choice, charter system new, non-district schools would open giving families other options. Additional options would break the monopoly that traditional public schools have on low-income students and create competition for enrollment and by extension funding. Schools that perform well would obviously attract more families and stay open…those that don’t wouldn’t. Of course, chronically failing schools can be closed or taken over by the state even if they do maintain adequate enrollment but in this case that wasn’t necessary.
The schools were open for multiple years. They struggled academically. They failed to improve. They suffered from declining enrollment. They chose to close or were strongly pushed in that direction. The end. The system worked.