According to the AP the Maryland Board of Education has directed the Montgomery County school system revisit its decision to reject two charter school applications last summer.

The state board of education determined that the Montogomery County Board of Education failed to adequately explained why they turned down the applications and gave them 90 days to reconsider the decision.

Last year Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill told the Washington Post that “A charter school should offer something unique, something different than what we offer in the Montgomery public schools,” in an effort to set a bar for approval.

The rejection of the applications didn’t come as a surprise to charter school supporters as the county is the home of a large and powerful teachers union who sees the new schools as competetitors and not a complement to public education.

What the union was doing along with the BOE’s help was protecting their turf from the pospect of schools that might actually do a better job than what the county currently offers to its 120,000 plus students.

In addition to having three children who attended public schools in the county I too am a graduate of the system.  And while I am generally satisfied with the education that my children received it would have been nice to have had the option to place them in a more academically challenging environment.

The school board has promised to respond in a timely fashion but but I don’t expect that it will change the outcome.  But the fact that the state board asked for a better explanation is a positive sign and gives some hope that charter schools will actually come to the county.

Montgomery County operates 200 schools and is the largest system in the state without a charter school.  Overall there are 44 charter schools in Maryland.

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