Renewing the Compact: A Statement by the Task Force on Charter School Quality and Accountability

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
August 2005

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, previously known as the Charter School Leadership Council, and the umbrella organization for the U.S. charter-school movement, has just issued this first-rate statement rededicating that movement to quality and accountability. In 30 pages, it carefully and eloquently explains what those terms mean in the charter-school world, why they're important, and how different they are from the constructions that opponents typically place on them. Several key paragraphs are worth quoting here, and anyone seriously interested in charter schools should go on to read the whole thing.

The charter compact must be reaffirmed and reinvigorated. The freedom to innovate must be protected against re-regulation. Accountability for results must be clearer and more certain. And achievement must be the first priority.

When the charter model works as it should, there is a relentless focus on achievement, and the "system of schools" itself is actually shaped by the quality of its performance:

  • Successful charter schools flourish. Their enrollment expands to serve more students, and their successful practices are replicated....
  • Promising charter schools are given adequate resources and take advantage of their unique flexibility to pursue constant improvement. They are monitored conscientiously by the authorizer that granted their charter....
  • Persistently low-achieving charter schools are closed, and students move to schools that will serve them more effectively.

When faithfully followed, this new model of public education works brilliantly. But too often, the charter compact is not being fully realized, and there is work to do on all levels: Shining models of high performance are ready for replication but constrained by legislated caps on growth and scarce facilities. Promising middle-tier schools do not have enough exposure to their higher-performing peers, and sometimes grow too complacent about current performance. And low-achieving schools are too rarely closed for academic reasons alone...

Much good advice is then supplied about rectifying these problems and realizing the promise of charter schools in the United States. You can get the full text at http://www.publiccharters.org/pdf/qtf.pdf. The National Alliance invites people who agree with this statement and its principles of quality chartering to add their names. I'm going to do that and hope you will consider doing likewise. To do so, go to http://www.publiccharters.org/taskforcereport.asp.

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