Cooperative takeover! (When a successful school absorbs a struggling neighbor)

This blog post originally appeared on the Education Innovating blog run by Education Evolving from 2010 to 2011. It has now been merged into our main blog.

The Wisconsin Charter Schools Association recently highlighted the saving of a school in its monthly newsletter.

Milwaukee School Closing Creates new opportunities for students:

Milwaukee College Prep, the 2008 Wisconsin Charter School of the Year, has been given an incredible opportunity to positively affect the lives of more students in Milwaukee. The unfortunate closure of the Academy of Learning and Leadership in July left two beautiful buildings empty and 400 students with no school to attend in the fall.

Instead of standing by and leaving the families to scramble, Milwaukee College Prep stepped up to the plate. Milwaukee College Prep: Lindsay Heights Campus opened with 425 students, an enthusiastic and professional staff, and high hopes! (Wisconsin Charter School Association (WCSA) newsletter)

This is a “lemons to lemonade” experience that can be replicated within innovation zones, where it’s possible to quickly close schools that aren’t working out and new schools with proven track records quickly expand or open new campuses to replace them.. Sometimes closure is the best option, and schools that aren’t succeeding should not continue. Closing schools, for whatever reason, is always hard. But a school closing can also be an opportunity if the students and the appropriate staff can move into a different school in the same location—particularly if that new school is healthy, established, and well-run.

The WCSA points out this important characteristic of open sector innovation zones: that a school closure can in fact (and should be) part of a process that places its highest priority on serving the interests of students – rather than favoring adult interests by indefinitely failing to take needed action on a school that should not remain open.

The WCSA points out this important characteristic of innovation zones: that a school closure can in fact (and should be) part of a process that is ultimately more constructive than holding up a school that should not remain open.

Image: Milwaukee Prep Scholars, via WCSA

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