EDITORIAL: Choose school wisely, hold schools accountable

2014-02-05T00:05:00Z EDITORIAL: Choose school wisely, hold schools accountable nwitimes.com
February 05, 2014 12:05 am  • 

Ambassador Christian Academy in Gary, which has 257 students using Choice Scholarship Program vouchers — the highest in the state — is an F school under Indiana's A-F grading system for school accountability.

It's a familiar theme, with many charter schools and a handful of private schools not performing better than the traditional public schools they're competing with.

In Lake and Porter counties, more than three dozen traditional public schools had poor grades last year on the A-F school accountability scale. Some of those schools have been rated as failing for several consecutive years. But what about the alternatives?

Among charter schools, East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy received a C in 2013. All other Lake County charter schools received a D or an F.

Most private schools in Lake and Porter counties did receive a passing grade last year on the A-F accountability scale. Ambassador and St. Stanislaus School in East Chicago were the only private schools in Lake County to receive an F grade. All of the private schools in Porter County received at least a C.

Cheryl Pruitt, Gary Community School Corp. superintendent, is making changes to upgrade technology and academics in her district.

"There is a misconception when you talk about urban communities and private schools," Pruitt said. "What type of private schools are they? Are they accredited? Are they held to the same standards as public schools? Are those standards fair and measurable for both?"

Those are questions parents must ask as they examine this data — among other factors — when deciding which school their children should attend.

State education officials should look closely at this data, too. Schools must be held accountable.

Under the Choice Scholarship Program, a private school cannot accept new students using vouchers if the school earns a D or an F for two consecutive years. In Lake County, only St. Stanislaus School in East Chicago fits that description.

Parents must shop wisely when deciding where to send their children to school, and the State Board of Education must hold all schools, not just traditional public schools, accountable.

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