Whenever a charter school authorizer starts the process of revoking a school’s charter, the reactions are predictable. Though the revocation is not final, edu-journalists are fascinated. Teachers and families are justifiably concerned. Authorizers are tight-lipped. Charter advocates like us try to calmly remind everyone that, in the charter school sector, this is what accountability looks like. But everyone agrees that it is a sad day.
That’s why it’s nice to see a (potentially) happier ending. This week, the NYS Education Department withdrew its Notice of Intent to Seek Revocation at Believe Northside Charter High School. The school’s board and staff have been working to strengthen its governance and academic efforts, to give the school and its families a new beginning. The school will remain on probation while the Department develops additional terms and conditions for the school’s probation, and Believe Northside is hardly out of the woods. But the school’s work to pull together under pressure deserves praise, and we are fully supportive of their efforts as they chart a new course.
A particular word of praise is due this school’s board members but also board members generally. When a school is doing well, it is, and quite correctly, the school’s leader and teachers that get the credit. It’s only when a school falters that attention turns to the board members, volunteers, most with full time jobs. They are the ones that must do the work—find new leadership, help reset culture, work with worried parents and students and deal with rightly-concerned regulators. None of it is easy. We don’t as a sector spend enough time thinking about board governance and thanking the people who do the actual governing.