Going Exponential: Growing the Charter School Sector's Best

The authors don’t beat around the bush: Bad charters
may exist, but so do excellent ones—and the latter should be supported and scaled
to serve exponentially more students. If the top 10 percent of charter schools expanded
at a rate similar to other growing industries, we learn from this PPI study,
they could reach all children in poverty by 2025. To do so, the authors offer recommendations
on how to overcome current practical, political, and environmental barriers to
growth, borrowing strategies from businesses and organizations like Apple,
Habitat for Humanity, and Starbucks. First, they advise that the top charter
providers rid themselves of their “pervasive fear of growth”; leaders should
commit not just to excellence, but to excellence for increasing numbers of
students. Other suggestions include: negotiating performance-based funding in
contracts; ramping up efforts to import talent from other industries and
cultivate it in the education sector; extending the reach of the best teachers
through technology and innovation; providing incentives and rewards for leaders
who achieve successful growth; and aligning with other similar organizations to
share ideas and resources. While some may balk at the stark comparison between
the education sector and other (largely for-profit) industries, this brief may
prove to be the shot-in-the-arm that the charter sector needs to cure it of its
complacency and timidity. The report serves less as a blueprint for development
and more as a call to arms for top charter providers, and as the title implies,
the possibilities are exponential.

Emily Ayscue Hassel, Bryan C. Hassel, and Joe
Ableidinger, “Going
Exponential: Growing the Charter School Sector’s Best
” (Washington, D.C.:
Progressive Policy Institute, 2011).