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ProPublica looks at White Hat

By John Published: April 6, 2011

ProPublica digs into Akron-based White Hat, one of the largest for-profit charter school operators in the country. We wrote about the lawsuit filed against White Hat last year by some of its own school boards. That story is here.

ProPublica, an independent nonprofit organization doing investigative journalism "in the public interest," looks at that lawsuit and about the role of big for-profit management companies in the operation of charter schools. So are the kids learning better in those publicly funded, privately operated schools?

In fact, White Hat schools across the country are performing poorly, according a report [2] by the National Education Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization based at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Of the 51 schools White Hat managed in 2010, only one met a key standard established by the No Child Left Behind lawcalled ''Adequate Yearly Progress.'' According to the report, that is by far the worst performance of any large for-profit management company. The company did not answer questions on the performance of its schools.

Adequate yearly progress is a ''crude indicator'' of success, according to Gary Miron, professor of education at Western Michigan University, who co-wrote the report. But he said it does at least show whether schools are meeting state standards.

''When you compare 2 percent of White Hat schools meeting AYP, that's just something that cries out that there's something awry here,'' he said. ''Even schools in poverty are going to have a much higher rate of meeting AYP.''

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