Charters & Choice

Since
2005, Fordham has been working in Ohio to recruit high quality charter schools
to neighborhoods badly in need of better schools. During our six-plus years of
effort as a charter authorizer we have managed to recruit just two
high-performing models to Columbus (KIPP and a BES school). Tougher still, we
have been unable to recruit any to our home town of Dayton. We know first-hand the
challenge of helping to recruit and launch great schools. It is for this reason
that we are excited about the work of organization across the country to
accelerate the growth of great new schools through a strategic process called “charter
incubation.” 

Charter
incubators are entities that intentionally build the supply of high-quality
schools and charter-management organizations (CMOs) in cities or regions by
recruiting, selecting, and training promising leaders, and supporting those
leaders as they launch new schools. Groups leading this innovative effort
include New
Schools for New Orleans
, the
Tennessee Charter School Incubator
, Get
Smart Schools
in Colorado, Charter
School Partners
in Minnesota, The Mind Trust’s Charter School
Incubator
in Indianapolis, and 4.0
Schools
in several southeastern states.

These
organizations are united in their belief that the development of great charter
schools can be accelerated through the recruitment, selection, and development
of talented school leaders and the support of those leaders as they...

Fordham
has been involved in the arena of school choice in Ohio at virtually every
level for the past decade. We authorize
charter schools
, we have created charter school support organizations and
helped birth other choice-support entities, we’ve fought for choice policies in
the legislature, and Terry and Checker literally wrote
the book
on what we think are the lessons from all this work in Ohio.
Issues of school choice and the quality (or not) of urban schools have been a
big part of my professional life the last five years. Now, they are front and
center in my personal life as a parent of a 4-year old son, too. My husband and
I have to decide in the next year where our child will go to school and it is a
daunting decision.

I
live in the Columbus City School district (CCS). My husband and I bought our
home years before we had decided whether we wanted to have children, let alone
where we’d want to raise them and send them to school. Fast forward about a
decade: our son will be a kindergartner next year and we find ourselves
navigating urban school choice firsthand.

We
look forward to continuing to live in the city of Columbus and sending our son
to a district school next year. We love the diversity and energy of our
neighborhood, and...

The Education Gadfly

More than two million students nationwide now attend charter schools, with over 500 new charters opening this school year alone. Ensuring a strong supply of talented school leaders to serve this growing sector requires creative solutions, which is why experts from charter incubation organizations across the country came together on Wednesday for a Fordham and CEE-Trust-sponsored discussion of the incubation model and a new policy brief on the topic. Watch the video to catch up on all the conversation from “Driving Quality: Can charter incubators solve the problem of too many mediocre charter schools?

Download the policy brief, “Better Choices: Charter Incubation as a Strategy for Improving the Charter School Sector,” to learn more.

The twenty years since Minnesota passed the nation’s first charter school law have seen a great expansion in school choice, with charters operating in all but ten states and enrolling nearly two million students nationwide. Yet while parents now enjoy more schooling options for their children, a disappointing number of charter schools fail to provide excellent educations. As an authorizer of charter schools in Ohio, we struggle daily with birthing and growing high-quality charter schools—which is why we find promising and underutilized approaches like charter incubation so appealing.

In this policy brief, Public Impact’s Joe Ableidinger and Julie Kowal examine the merits of the incubation model, outline specific strategies for supporting it, and profile organizations around the U.S. putting it into practice. The authors explain that through the strategic recruitment, selection, and training of talented leaders—and support of them as they launch or expand new charter schools—incubators offer charter school advocates an important tool in guaranteeing quality school choice.

Fordham is the 99 percent

Special guest appearance! Terry Ryan flies in
from the Buckeye State to talk with Mike about charter incubators (using our
new report as backdrop), the striking similarity between the EU and the Common
Core, and D.C.’s school-choice initiatives. Amber dances the TUDA and Chris
believes in Santa Claus.

Better Choices coverSince 2005, Fordham has been working in Ohio to recruit high-quality
charter schools to neighborhoods badly in need of better schools. During
our six-plus years of effort we have managed to recruit just two
high-performing models to Columbus (KIPP and a Building Excellent
Schools
venture). Tougher still, we have been unable to recruit any to our home
town of
Dayton. We know first-hand just how hard it is to help recruit and
launch great
schools, especially to a Rust Belt state like Ohio. It is for this
reason that
we are excited about the work of organizations across the country to
accelerate
the growth of great new schools through a strategic process called
charter
incubation. 

Charter incubators are entities that intentionally build the
supply of high-quality schools and charter-management organizations (CMOs) in
cities or regions by recruiting, selecting, and training promising leaders, and
supporting those leaders as they launch new schools. Groups leading this
innovative effort include New
Schools for New Orleans
, the
Tennessee Charter School Incubator
, Get
Smart Schools
in Colorado, Charter
School Partners
in Minnesota, The Mind Trust’s Charter School
Incubator
in Indianapolis, and 4.0
Schools
in several southeastern states.

These organizations are united in their belief
that the development of great charter schools...

Are Charter School Unions Worth the Bargain? coverDespite its reputation, the charter field isn’t
a wholly anti-union stronghold. In fact, 12 percent of charter schools now
have bargaining agreements. (Conversion charters are much more likely to be
unionized [44 percent] than startups [9 percent].) In this new CRPE report,
Mitch Price analyzes the union contracts of nine of the nation’s 604 unionized
charters and compares them to their local district contracts. He finds that, on
average, charters’ union contracts are more flexible when it comes to length of
day and year, grievance processes, and layoff criteria—but still far too rigid.
(Using our own Leadership
Limbo
criteria, Price gives charter contracts a C-plus score, compared
to the C-minus score given to district schools.) While union contracts in the
charter sector are relatively flexible—more tailored to individual school needs
(and thus less likely to stifle the missions of these schools)—Price argues
that we are only seeing their beta versions. It remains to be seen whether
these contracts, when renegotiated, will serve as examples of reasonable labor
relations practices or will instead grow more restrictive.

Mitch Price, Are Charter School Unions Worth the Bargain? (Center
for Reinventing Public Education, Seattle, WA, November 2011)....

This edition of Fwd summarizes Ohio state report card data for Dayton public schools district and charter. Two major conclusions leap from these data. First, despite some recent gains, the phrase academic emergency continues to characterize the majority of Dayton's public schools. Second, youngsters in Dayton's charter schools outperformed their district peers in all parts of the 4th and 6th grade proficiency tests. This important finding flies in the face of recent assertions that charter school students are learning less.

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