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Harbor no more

Acorrespondent brought this to our attention today: Of one sort or another, this is major news in the world of Idaho charter schools, and maybe beyond.

At a special meeting in June, the Board of Directors of the Harbor Educational Institute decided to dissolve the Institute. This will end its work in providing training and support services to schools that have implemented the Harbor School Method, and phase out the operations of the organization over the upcoming months. The decision to dissolve the Institute was based on an assessment that, for many reasons, the Institute’s resources and organizational structure would not be able to continue to properly meet the demands of the growth that it both has experienced and expected to experience. Enclosed is an official notice of dissolution that is provided for by Idaho statute. HEI expects to end operations by the end of November 2007.

The Institute was created to assist schools that wanted to use the Harbor School Method. Responding to a significant demand in a relatively short period of time, it contributed to the successful implementation of the Harbor School Method in ten schools beyond Liberty Charter School, which was the first Harbor school started by the method’s founder Rebecca Stallcop and a core group of teachers. Currently eleven schools, ten charter schools and one non-charter school are using the Harbor School Method . . .

The law authorizing charter schools in Idaho was based on the idea that they would be laboratories of learning, experimental and specialized centers. What has happened instead is that most have adopted one of a handful of what amount to franchised education methods. The 11 Idaho schools, the Habor web site said, are “serving a total of 3,335 students in 2006-2007 in the communities of Boise, Caldwell, Eagle, Idaho Falls, Kuna, Meridian, Nampa, and Pocatello” – they’re likely not exaggerating.

What lies behind the developments at Harbor, and what happens next – what the schools will do next – will likely be a story very much worth knowing.

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