“Charter schools embrace innovative educational practices that encourage competition and hold teachers and administrators accountable for the academic achievement of their students.”

Mitt Romney, May 5, 2005

Fast forward to last Friday, and let’s see how those “innovative educational practices” are doing in practice.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

As they move to close down a network of St. Louis charter schools over the next several weeks, state education officials face a task as monumental and complicated as dismantling an entire school district.

As many as 3,800 children — or about 11 percent of those attending public schools in the city — must find new schools. Their records must be properly preserved and transferred. The school buildings they attended have to be scoured for equipment and materials paid for with federal funds. The 288 teachers and staff who work at the schools must have a better idea of their remaining pay and benefits. And that’s not counting the thousands of questions by parents who demand answers.


The Imagine schools [schools run by VA-based Imagine Schools, Inc.] had been on shaky ground all year.

Their scores on the state’s standardized tests were well below those of St. Louis Public Schools. The schools were deficit spending. Rent and administrative costs took dollars from the classroom to the for-profit management company that runs them.

A for-profit company, taking money for their profits? No one could have anticipated . . .

How bad were those scores? Bad. Very, very bad.

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.

But I can see why Romney loves charter schools. They apparently are doing for education what Bain did for employment and the “innovative” market practices like mortgage securitization did for the financial services industry. Consequences and product quality be damned — the corporate profits come first.

According to the Center for Educational Reform (a pro-charter schools group), 15% of all charter schools created since 1992 have closed, 42% for financial reasons and 24% for mismanagement reasons (pp. 8-9). But as they note, that’s what “a few bad apples” can do.

“Bad apples” are the problem? No one could have anticipated . . .

Yep. It’s those pesky bad apples. Just like in the financial services industry. How did Carl Levin describe one of those deals put together by an innovator at Goldman Sachs? Oh, yes, I remember.

Gotta love those market-based solutions. Unless, of course, you’re among the thousands of parents in greater St. Louis who don’t know where they are going to send their kids to school next year.

But at least the folks in Virginia at Imagine Schools Inc. got paid. And when it comes to market-based solutions, that’s what matters most.


photo h/t to ilovememphis