Weekend reads

I can’t tell you how much I like the annual charter school “market-share” report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. It’s my favorite annual publication. They document how chartering has grown over the last year in major cities and show fascinating facts like which cities have the largest charter market shares, which cities’ market shares are growing fastest, and more. So much here to explore, but the biggest eye-popper is that we now have two cities in which charters are the majority school sector—NOLA and Detroit. Andy Eduwonk hosted a conference on charters in Charlottesville, VA, in 2003, and several pre-read papers contemplated a day far into the future when a city might have 10 percent of their kids attending charters. Today, there are 135 such cities. And in 32 cities, 20 percent of public school kids are in charters. The Urban School System of the Future is coming.

Bain & Company has an interesting paper out on districts’ pitiful performance in preparing principals. Big headline: A majority of schools fail to systematically develop their high-quality teachers into high-potential leaders (some districts and a number of CMOs are much better, but they are the outliers). Common roadblocks include a lack of encouragement for teachers to pursue these roles and infrequent feedback and coaching. The report frequently notes how other fields and sectors thoughtfully build succession plans—so why haven’t we done it in K–12? Something to ponder.

As in the U.S., providing quality schooling for low-income folks is a big challenge in South Africa. Currently, the country offers only public and private schools. A new report from the Centre for Development and Enterprise (funded by the terrific Michael and Susan Dell Foundation) considers “contract schooling,” charter-like models, in both developed and developing countries to understand implications for South Africa. A lot is known about chartering in the US, but Sweden has an analogue, Britain’s Academy model is very quite similar, and Columbia and Pakistan have relevant systems. The results are generally quite encouraging. South Africa’s legal environment will make it difficult but not impossible to translate the international lessons. Even if South African ed reform isn’t at the top of your priorities list, the descriptions of charter-like programs in other nations might interest you.

TNTP just released a one-page discussion guide for teachers interested in exploring what the shift to Common Core means for their own classrooms. There are supporting pre-read materials to get the conversation going. If you’re tracking CCSS implementation, you might want to look this over.

More By Author

Related Articles