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.

Exponential: Growing the Charter School Sector’s Best

Policy Institute
Ayscue Hassel, Bryan C. Hassel, and Joe Ableindinger