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Monday’s online Herald-Dispatch had a riveting article about West Virginia’s charter schools, some of which may be opening soon. Ryan Quinn’s article, “One company applies to run half of WV’s first charter schools,” deserves close attention. That company is Accel.

I admit that I am not a fan of most charter schools and believe they are most beneficial in metropolitan areas. I also admit that overall West Virginia’s schools do not have, nor deserve, a sterling reputation. Yet, as I’ve said before, until a great majority of West Virginia’s parents highly value education, nothing will change. Accel’s charter schools will not fix West Virginia’s education problems. If, anything, they will exacerbate them.

Accel is described as a “fast-expanding charter school management company” and is on three of the six applications to open charter schools in this state. While Accel indicates that it provides education, it is well-tuned to profit making. For-profit schools have traditionally done well for management and stockholders, not so much for students. It’s worth remembering the sad demise of the charter for-profit ITT program on U.S. 60 and Ohio’s Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which failed precipitously in 2018, leaving hundreds of students without a school program.

According to Quinn’s data, “17 out of 30 Accel Schools in Ohio were graded D’s and five others were graded F’s in 2018-19 by the state Department of Education.” Quinn’s article also noted that shortly after Gov. Jim Justice signed the law approving West Virginia charter schools, Accel hired two lobbyists, one of whom represents Justice’s Greenbrier resort. Hmm.

Accel is planning two brick-and-mortar schools, one in the Eastern Panhandle and the other in Nitro as well as on online academy. The buildings each are estimated to accommodate about 600 students, while up to 2,000 students can be served online. It’s reported that West Virginia’s new unelected Professional Charter School Board, which most parents know little about, approved all three Accel schools this week. Despite numerous negative reviews about Accel Schools on indeed.com, it looks like Accel is certain to have its educational programs endorsed.

This will be a good way to quickly hurt this state’s public education. First, the students who will be withdrawn from public schools are those whose parents care about their kids’ education. Most of those students would do well in any academic setting. As a parent whose three children graduated from the old Huntington High, it was clear that while their education was good but not superior, their schooling enabled them to do well in college and have fine careers.

The state will give each child removed from a public school almost $5,000 dollars to pay charter school costs. That drains funds from public schools and enriches an organization that has a major interest in profit-making. Kids with special needs rarely are desired by charter schools; their education is often more costly.

For-profit charter schools are now a fact of life in West Virginia. Accel appears ready to become a major player in the schools in this state, but it will not fix West Virginia’s education problems.

Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch opinion page. Her email address is dwmufson@comcast.net.

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