Local media has reported that the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) in Minnesota has closed its doors for good. According to the report:
The test scores were high. And until the specter of expensive legal bills landed the school in bankruptcy this summer, the finances were healthy. Yet, on July 1, Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy – the 540-student charter school with campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine – was no longer. Left without the state-backed overseer it needed to keep going, the schoolclosed after a final flurry of lawsuits and recriminations. TiZA's board debated fighting on but dissolved the school this month. Why didn't the academy make it? A search for a clear-cut answer in documents and interviews with education leaders, attorneys and TiZA stakeholders turns up instead a tangle of factors that chipped away at the school's chances:
- Intense scrutiny that put the school on the defensive.
- An American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that swelled beyond anyone's wildest guess, and the unraveling of the school's relationship with its overseer.
- And a final combative stance that, at least in hindsight, seems counterproductive.
"Ultimately, all those other issues overrode how well the school was doing academically," said Eugene Piccolo, the head of the state charter schoolassociation.
Until the end, former lead teacher Wendy Swanson-Choi believed the schoolwould survive. With its high test scores and long waiting list, it seemed too much of a success story not to. The state – about to rule on a crucial application for a new TiZA overseer, or authorizer – had given the schoolmany nods of approval. In 2009, a $375,000 federal grant the state awarded TiZA brought guests from other charter schools into its classrooms, where, says Swanson-Choi, teachers had cultivated a culture of high expectations and discipline.
Read the rest here.
An earlier post discussed the connections between TIZA and the Muslim American Society (MAS) and Islamic Relief as well as the Islamic character of the school. The MAS was established in 1993 by leaders of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and a Hudson Institute report has discussed the relationship of the MAS to both the Egyptian and U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Another post has discussed the Brotherhood ties of Islamic Relief. Other posts have discussed aspects of the controversies surrounding TiZA including the controversy surrounding the links between TiZA and another group that was seeking to sponsor a local charter school