Entering unchartered waters
Is the charter movement--which has sputtered along, making steady but slow progress--finally ready to kick it into high gear? Signs in New York point to yes, say USA Today's Richard Whitmire and Eduwonk Andy Rotherham. In the latest Education Week, they write about how three top-performing Big Apple charter operators (KIPP, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools) have banded together to practice and promulgate successful methods of teaching and running schools. (Real "coopetition.") The schools don't compete for resources, or hoard their best practices. Instead, they work with each other in order to strengthen the whole group. And these organizations aren't just changing the way schools are run; they're altering personnel pipelines as well. A new program at Hunter College's ed school, under the capable leadership of Dean David Steiner, has founders of successful charter schools act as instructors (more here) for other charter-school- teachers to be. Scaling up such ambitious efforts is challenging, but KIPP and similar programs, like Teach For America, have shown that it can be done. If the "New York effect" catches on, the charter movement might just catch fire.
"A Defining Moment for Charter Schools?" by Richard Whitmire and Andrew J. Rotherham, Education Week, February 11, 2008