Chartering At Gunpoint

Interesting CSM story about the Denver school being forcibly converted into a charter. The ever-sensible Greg Richmond makes two important points. The first is that it is essential to arrive at some commonly accepted definition of what a charter school is in terms of evaluating them. In addition to basic public responsibilities like oversight and access, important dimensions would include characteristics like autonomy of operations. Otherwise, all these things called “charters” will be lumped together even when many are not actually charter schools.

Richmond also notes that you can’t force this idea on schools. That’s an enormous and too often overlooked point. NCLB provides a broad menu of choices for district and state leaders in terms of dealing with chronically under-performing schools (and remember, these are schools with widespread problems, don’t believe the NEA generated hysteria, the law does not call for the reconstitution of schools where, for instance, just a single subgroup is struggling). Just calling low-performing schools “charter schools” is a cosmetic fix not a substantive one, yet it’s going to be an easy temptation.

In terms of the KIPP school in Denver, worth waiting to see what happens. KIPP has the leadership and competence to pull this off and bringing KIPP to the kids rather than kids to KIPP is an intriguing idea if there are other public options for parents who don’t want the KIPP model.

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