Amid Pressure from Public Education Advocacy Groups, City of Milwaukee Charter Finally Closing

Northpoint Lighthouse charter school had problems from the very beginning when they put their students in an abandoned steel processing plant.

Northpoint Lighthouse charter school had problems from the very beginning when they put their students in an abandoned steel processing plant.

Thanks to the work of a broad community coalition, Schools and Communities United (SCU), the Milwaukee Common Council’s Steering and Rules Committee, the city charter Northpoint Lighthouse Academy will be closing at the end of the current school year. This city charter was a textbook example of why privately run charters, operated outside of the elected school board, are bad for students and taxpayers.

Northpoint was part of a privately run charter chain, co-owned by former tennis star Andre Agassi. The chain received immediate disapproval for choosing to place the school in an abandoned steel processing plant:

“There are a lot of issues as it concerns the health and safety and welfare for the children. In this case, we’ve got a power tower and transmission lines in the backyard of this facility,” Marva Herndon said.

Schools and Communities United's Marva Herndon and Larry Hoffman testify before the Steering and Rules Committee on the city's charter school performance in January of 2015.

Schools and Communities United’s Marva Herndon and Larry Hoffman testify before the Steering and Rules Committee on the city’s charter school performance in January of 2015.

For over a year, SCU has been calling for the closure of the Northpoint and other poorly performing city charter schools. As the coalition noted, the school never provided a stable environment for the families and students it served, as indicated in this 2014 SCU report.

• Of 14 classroom teachers to start in September 2013, 7 remained the entire year. Of the 7 vacancies, 2 were refilled during the year and 5 were left unfilled. Also, 2 out of 4 ‘other instructional staff’ remained the entire year.
• At the end of the 2013-14 year, three teachers did not have a DPI license.
• In interviews with Charter School Review Committee consultant, teachers noted a “lack of concrete disciplinary policies,” “lack of instructional support, coaching and teacher accountability,” and “minimal communication and involvement with parents.”

At the January 27th Charter School Review Board meeting the decision was made to close Northpoint at the end of the current school year. This is a definite win for public education advocates. However, supporters of public education must still be vigilant, as illustrated by Milwaukee’s recent experience with King’s Academy. King’s Academy was put on probation for poor performance, but instead of risking being shut down, its administration declared that it would cease to operate as a city charter and would instead re-enter the voucher program. Rather than being closed, it escaped accountability for its poor performance. Let’s hope that Northpoint does not try the same ruse.

 

Live and Recorded Public meetings of CHARTER SCHOOL REVIEW COMMITTEE on 2016-01-27 5:30 PM for The City of Milwaukee, WI

Source: CHARTER SCHOOL REVIEW COMMITTEE on 2016-01-27 5:30 PM – Jan 27th, 2016

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3 thoughts on “Amid Pressure from Public Education Advocacy Groups, City of Milwaukee Charter Finally Closing

  1. That is a miracle. So very happy to hear it. I will say again. The doors of public schools have always been open to all children…no matter what race, creed, tribe or learning style. Our children are our best country’s best hope for the future. Inside public schools you will find teachers doing everything possible to help children reach their dream…the American one. How could we ever tell families your children cannot receive an education because the only schools are private ones, and they are not affordable to all. Maybe and it’s a big maybe Scott Walker and his fellow politicians would go and teach in a MPS school for one year, and the teachers get to choose the school. I might think they know more than a trained, licensed educator. They wouldn’d last a week. MPS teachers I don’t know how you do it. Yes, I do. You put the children first. God bless all of you.

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