Friday, May 02, 2008

All Girls Charter School Denied by Maryland

A group of parents from Frederick County Maryland were looking to establish an all-girls charter school were denied on appeal yesterday by the Maryland State Board of Education.

The school was planned to serve 360 girls from the 7th to the 12th grade with a curriculum that focused on math, science and critical need langauges like Arabic, Russian and Chinese. Although no reason has yet to be posted by the State Board of Education, the denial of the EACH Charter school's appeal means that the group of parents must now decide whether to appeal the decisions in the courts.

Last November, the Frederick County School Board denied the request, noting that the proposal had curricular weaknesses among others. There was concern among Board members about the legality of a publicly funded single sex school.

I must admit that initially, I was not just skeptical, but opposed to the EACH school's plan. But after some educational points by Angela Philips herself, I came around to the proposal.

Without an opinion by the State Board of Education to read, it is difficult to know their reasons. But the blow to educational choices for parents in Frederick County is real. There is one charter school in Frederick, the Monocacy Valley Montessori School which serves elementary age students. The only options for parents of middle and high school students are the public schools or private, usually parochial schools.

While the public middle and high schools are of sound quality, the quality of education is not the issue for me and I suppose Ms. Philips and her compatriots. Rather it is the lack of choice available to parents of normal means. It is traditional public schools or nothing for most people in Frederick and that kind of lack of choice I believe hurts education in the long run.

Over all there are 30 charter schools in all of Maryland and 22 of them are located in Baltimore City. Prince George's County Maryland has four schools, and Anne Arundel County, Frederick County, Harford County and St. Mary's County each have one. So unless you have money or you live in Baltimore City, parents have no choices for their children.

What is troubling I suppose is that the only people who are risking anything in a charter school are the parents and students of the school. If the school fails in its mission, the county and/or state can revoke the charter and shut the school down. If parents are willing to take the risk, why not permit it to go forward?

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