Starting Fresh in Low-Performing Schools

Liam Julian

Bryan C. Hassel, Emily Ayscue-Hassel, and Julie Kowal
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
2006

NCLB watchers know that the law's mandate that districts "restructure" their chronically failing schools is loophole-laden and typically leads to cosmetic changes that do little to reform a blighted school's core. A nation of brick and mortar Dorian Grays. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers suggests a new approach that uses charter school wisdom to help ailing districts: "starting fresh" (Public Impact previously put out a report with a similar philosophy). This approach empowers education providers--which can be groups of teachers or parents, community-based organizations, school management organizations, or charter school operators--to start a new school within the walls of the old under a clear, performance-based contract. One finds in this report practical guidance for implementing such a restructuring strategy. Its five parts give an overview of the potential of starting fresh, and advice on engaging parents and the community, selecting the right providers, establishing relationship terms, and collaborating with teachers. All in all, this is good stuff. It provides an actionable plan for interested parties while underscoring that, if NCLB is to fulfill its promise to kids, the restructuring of dysfunctional schools has to be more than adding lip gloss and eyeliner. Read the first part here (you'll have to order the other four parts from NACSA).