This white paper (the second
in a series on portfolio districts from the Center on Reinventing Public
Education) hits the traditional school district hard, asserting that, due to
resource constraints and political shackles, it will never be able to make the
big gains necessary to ease the achievement gap and ramp up student success.
This is where the “portfolio district”—and charter schools—come into play.
Charters, the authors argue, have shown the effectiveness of extended days
(KIPP), parent involvement and school culture (YES Prep), and intensive
professional development (Mastery Public Schools). Districts would be smart to
join forces with these proven operators. Frustratingly, however, the paper’s
concluding points have little to do with either charters or the achievement
gap. Instead, the authors provide what reads like a twelve-step program for
districts looking to get on the portfolio-district wagon. Step one: Acknowledge
the problem. Step two: Agree that we have to try new things. And on, and on, and