Does Portfolio Beget Portfolio or Does Charter Beget Portfolio?

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One question I’ve been muling over is whether district leadership adopting portfolio principles actually leads to aggressive portfolio implementation, or whether charter market share growth is what actually drives increased implementation of portfolio principles.

Above is a screenshot of CRPE’s rankings of portfolio districts.

The top two districts are or will be +75% charter within a few years.

The next few districts, for the most part, have modest charter market shares (10-25%).

When I have more time, I might try to take the above cities and plot correlation between charter market share and portfolio model adoption (note, however, that cities like Washington D.C. and Newark aren’t in the CRPE network, I think, so CRPE’s list might not be comprehensive).

I might also quibble that CRPE is being a little generous in some of their rankings. Is Los Angeles really a national exemplar in accountability?


Here’s my gut instinct: over the long-haul, we’ll see more districts “forced” into portfolio through increases in charter school market share than we’ll see districts adopt portfolio because that’s what their district leadership believes in.

In other words, when a third of your children attend charter schools, things like unified enrollment, unified accountability, and increased autonomy for all schools becomes a logical way to organize the system.

At some point, the regulatory environment will evolve to match the conditions on the ground.

Sometimes this will happen earlier on, such as Denver.

Other times, it will happen a little too late, as in Detroit.

But, without charter market share in the 20-40% range, I don’t think we’ll see many cities adopt unified enrollment, unified accountability, educator autonomy, and a decentralized ecosystem for talent and school supports.


In sum: I think charter growth begets portfolio more so than portfolio begets portfolio.

This is a hunch. I might be wrong. Let me know if you think I am.

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