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Furthermore …

The Imagine Schools North Wells Street site opened in 2007.

Charters given warning on performance

Two recent developments could spell bad news for the future of three local charter schools.

Last week, a report from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that Indiana’s charter schools generally perform well. But the report noted that the schools sponsored by the Indianapolis mayor’s office are more successful than those that Ball State University charters.

The report followed a call by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to close the weakest charter schools for failing to live up to their promise of offering a better alternative to traditional public schools.

Bob Marra, who heads Ball State’s charter programs, said charters of schools with poor results should expire without being renewed. “We need to not renew them,” Marra said. “That’s what will happen to some of these schools. We will be taking that step very soon.”

All three Ball State-authorized charters in Fort Wayne – Imagine MASTer Academy on Wells Street, Imagine Schools on Broadway and the Timothy L. Johnson Academy – have among the worst test scores in Indiana. In the school grades that the Indiana Department of Education issued last month, both Imagine schools scored an F, while the Johnson Academy got a D.

Marra and his staff have been working with the charter authorizers’ group and seem rightly intent on setting tougher standards.

The poorly performing schools have said they receive some of the most challenging students. But Greg Richmond, president of the charter authorizers’ group, said many charter schools succeed under similar circumstances, and those in the bottom 15 percent should close.

Conference reveals uncomfortable ties

IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly is receiving understandable criticism from environmental activists for a presentation he made at an ALEC meeting in November sponsored in large part by coal interests.

The Greenpeace blog described the American Legislative Exchange Council event as an “anti-environmental jamboree” that “was inundated with coal money and featured an Indiana regulator advising coal utilities on delaying US Environmental Protection Agency rules to control greenhouse gas emissions and hazardous air.”

A post on The Nation’s website said the documentation provided on the Greenpeace blog “reveal an unseemly effort by coal lobbyists to thwart air pollution standards.”

Easterly was recently reappointed by Gov.-elect Mike Pence to continue at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Indiana frequently ranks at the bottom in the nation for its environmental protection efforts. And ALEC is an organization with strong ties to Hoosier lawmakers that is frequently criticized for its lack of transparency when advocating for corporate interests in state legislatures.