James Harvey and Lydia Rainey
Center on Reinventing Public Education
Almost two dozen education leaders gathered in January to consider ways to multiply the number of successful charter schools in urban areas. This report, a record of the proceedings, contains panelists' questions, concerns, and proposed solutions to problems that stymie charter school expansion. The group discussed five major topics: 1) the challenge of bringing charters to scale, 2) ensuring that quality isn't sacrificed to growth, 3) the problems associated with partnering with school districts that are politically unsympathetic to charters, 4) the challenges posed by charters' own governing boards, and 5) the helpful and hurtful roles that foundations play in bringing charters to scale. Speakers offered sobering details ("How long would it take, at the current pace of supply generation, to achieve a tipping point of 20 percent in each of our [target] markets? The answer is 85 years."); and hard-nosed reminders ("Parents in Harlem want what everyone else wants. They want safe, good schools. Charters? Who cares? Unless charter means better--then everyone cares."). Everyone agreed that charter schools face a tough uphill slog. Perhaps you already knew that, but you can read this report here.