Among the SRC successes that Commissioner Bill Green enumerated on Radio Times with Marty Moss Coane last month, the two that appear to be the most remarkable are
(1) the SRC’s implementation of a set of standards to evaluate charter school performance, and
(2) the transparency under which the SRC operates.
If I am correct in assuming that these are the same standards used by the charter office, I am somewhat perplexed because the charter office has recommended the non-renewal or abolishment of schools administered by Aspira, Universal, and Kephara, yet the SRC has elected not to act upon these recommendations. This fact leads me to assume that the SRC has a set of standards stashed away somewhere, that it has not shared with the charter office. In that case, it would seem to contradict the SRC’s transparency that Mr. Green has proudly publicized. Or possibly there are certain standards available for certain charters. In other words – two sets of standards. Another way of phrasing this last sentence would be double standards – which, we all know, are not really standards at all.
The reason that I am singling Commissioner Green out here is that he has been the most effusive about the SRC’s successes in various news accounts since last month’s vote on the SRC to dissolve itself; but I see additional concerns with other members of the current body as well. The rationale that the SRC has given for voting itself out of existence has been its success in placing the district on sound financial footing. Yet Aspira, Universal, and Kephira have the potential to increase the deficit of the district well beyond its expected shortfall of $138 million by 2019. Disgruntled students, parents, or public interest lawsuits all have the potential to point the blame upon this current body at any time in the future. In addition, although facts and credible allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced at Aspira over the past few years, this body has expressed no interest in determining the impact of this information on the students, staff, or community at these schools. Such an omission might not only cost the school district millions of dollars several years from now in legal fees, it might also affect individual members of this body as well. Sexual misconduct, even old offenses, are a current feature on network news. And in the case of religious institutions as well as institutions of higher learning, it is not only the perpetrator, but those who have administrative responsibility over this person who are also indicted, and ultimately convicted.
Standards, transparency, fiscal responsibility? The next six months will decide what the SRC’s legacy will be, and the first steps toward that legacy can begin this evening.