The Case for All Charter Districts

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Yesterday I had a piece in Education Next on charter districts.

Interestingly enough, Scott Pearson, the executive director of the D.C. charter board wrote the opposing piece, arguing for a blend of charters and district schools.

I admire Scott and consider him to be one of the best authorizers in the country. You should read his piece as well.

Some Reflections

1. Something interested occurred in our two pieces: I used very liberal arguments (leaning heavy on equity) to make a case for a somewhat conservatively supported outcome (all charters). Scott used conservative arguments (schools need not all be treated equally / play by same rules) to make a case for a more liberally supported outcome (keep government operating a good portion of schools).

2. I was surprised but appreciated the fact that Scott came and out said charters should not be required to serve every child, every time. Many charter sectors operate under such rules. I don’t agree with this structure, but if you’re going to allow it, you should explicitly defined it, as Scott does.

3. I ended the piece on this note:

Yet, given the current limits of our knowledge, I do not believe all urban districts should transform into charter districts immediately. Rather, the next phase of the work should be focused on learning how best to build these systems. Ideally, within a decade, 5 to 10 additional cities will make the transition to all charter systems. From these cities we will learn what works, what does not work, and whether structural change continues to deliver performance gains across a variety of contexts.

Hopefully it will work.

I think it will, but time will tell.

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