WALA television in Mobile did a story about the Washington County charter school chaos May 29. They did a fine job in giving both sides of the story. (Though the achievement numbers presented by Woodland Prep supporters were out of date.) You can see it here.
What caught my attention was the interview with Mac Buttram, who chairs the commission board. He served in the legislature from Cullman for one term before being defeated in 2014, in spite of substantial support from Bob Riley and Mike Hubbard.
He was asked why the commission approved the charter application for Woodland Prep when the National Association of Charter School Authorizers recommended that the application be denied. He told the TV reporter, “There is nothing that requires the commission to use the NACSA report to determine what action the commission takes.”
Well, actually there is. You find it on page 7, line 8 of the charter law passed in 2015. The law says:
“NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED AUTHORIZING STANDARDS.
Standards for high quality public charter school authorizing collaboratively drafted and regularly updated by practitioners and policy makers from across the country who have experience and practice in the filed of charter authorizing.”
In other words the commission is supposed to seek help from those who have experience in approving charter schools–like the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. They aren’t supposed to just make up their own rules as they go along.
And what makes Buttram’s remarks all the more revealing is that Soner Tarim, who has been hired by Woodland Prep to manage their school told members of the Texas Education Agency last week that the Alabama charter commission did not know how to review applications until he told them how to do it.
Who the heck is running this show? A hired gun from Texas or a chairman who apparently does not understand the law he is supposed to be administrating?
This entire episode has become nothing but a reality show–a damn bad one.
And this is how we take care of our students in Alabama? God help us all.