Missouri finally had enough of Imagine Schools. After calls from the mayor of St. Louis and the state education commissioner, the Missouri Board of Education voted on Tuesday to close all Imagine Charter Schools in St. Louis. From St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Elisa Crouch:
The move follows months of increasing scrutiny of the schools’ financial, leadership and academic problems. The schools are operated by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc., a for-profit charter school management company. Students enrolled at the schools make up about one-third of the city’s charter school population.
State test results from 2011 showed that nearly all students at the city’s Imagine schools were performing below grade level in reading and math, prompting St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Nicastro to call for the closure of the schools.
In December, their sponsor, Missouri Baptist University, announced it would close two of them — Imagine Academy of Academic Success and Imagine Academy of Cultural Arts — this spring, and place the other four on probation.
On Monday, Missouri Baptist University relinquished its sponsorship of the six charter schools, handing all regulatory authority over to the state. And one day later, the Board of Education voted to close them.
Missouri’s charter school policies are clearly much more prudent than Florida’s as evidenced by the requirement that charter schools have a sponsor. Florida, which has no such requirement, also doesn’t have the same sort of responsible and concerned policy-makers either. Consider this:
State school board member Michael Jones said the children at the Imagine schools “don’t get these years back. We have a legal and moral imperative to act on their behalf.”
In the wake of two closures this week and last summers massive McCay scholarship scandals, Florida’s republican legislators attempted to shove through an irresponsible parent trigger bill and coerce school districts to turn over more property tax revenue to charters -even when they don’t come close to providing the same services. Moreover, Florida’s governor and its education commissioner released some hyper-filtered data which touted charter school success on FCAT.
With Jeb Bush hand-picking members of Florida’s state board and education commissioners and dominating policy, its hard to imagine hearing a response like that of Jones’.