I wrote this book because, first and foremost, I wanted our community to know that our activities don’t have to be dictated by decisions made a hundred years ago, especially when those decisions have led to consistently heartbreaking results.
Second, the solution is right in front of us—it’s at work every single day, in cities from coast to coast. We just need to take it from its limited application and scale it, which will take far less work than you might imagine. And it will allow us to do what should have been ages ago: bring an end to the failed urban district.
In the simplest terms, chartering should replace the urban district.
Namely, four systemic innovations that chartering introduced into public education should serve as the tools for managing a city’s portfolio of schools. This is a plan for continuous improvement.
Here a quick walk through how our thinking and activities need to change to realize the urban school system of the future.
First, we have to begin with a new guiding question. Instead of asking, “How do we improve the district?” which wrongfully assumes that the district must be the central actor, our new question should be, “How do we maximize the number of students in high-performing schools?”
This has important consequences. It gets us focused on school performance.
It also leads us to “sector agnosticism,” meaning we judge each school individually, without regard to who runs it. This is a “three-sector approach.” It shouldn’t matter if a...