Charter Schools Get Their Mojo Back


It’s been a tough summer for charter schools.

From John Oliver to the NAACP to Elizabeth Warren, there’s been a lot of unfortunate takedowns.

And while these criticisms should not be ignored, they should also not be viewed as the final etchings on a tombstone – especially when the best of the charter school movement is delivering amazing victories across the country.

Mojo Moment #1: A Quarter Billion to Scale 

Elizabeth Warren aside, it’s worth remembering that a Democratic president (Bill Clinton) started the federal charter school program and a bipartisan majority in congress has continued to expand the program to this year’s current $250 million allocation.

See here for the winners.

In a time of federal dysfunction, it’s heartening to see the federal government at its best: investing in  educators to launch amazing new schools.

Mojo Moment #2: 50 Million to Build the Future of Schooling

The XQ prize was just announced and half of the ten winners were charter schools.

Of late, it has been common to criticize charter for failing to innovate.

Well, how about: a school developing virtually reality courses as a way to reinvent instruction; a mobile school to serve homeless students wherever they might be; and a school aiming to build a tech platform that could be the operating system for thousands of schools across the country?

Time will tell if these innovations can scale, but the breadth of their ambition is inspiring.

Mojo Moment #3: Thousands Rally for 100,000 More Charter Seats

Thousands of families and educators, joined by special guest Common, marched in New York City to support the doubling of the charter sector from 100,000 to 200,000 students.

I wish that those who criticize charters would grapple with the reality that families who are forced to send their children to failing public schools are marching in the streets for more high-quality charter schools.

With these rallies as a backdrop, calling for a moratorium on charter schools seems out of touch at best and malevolent at worst.

Government and civic leaders should be serving, not denying, families in need.

Scale, Innovation, Demand

When you’re growing great schools, reinventing what school can be, and thousands of families are asking for more – it’s worth taking some time to feel the wind at your back.

And it’s worth reminding yourself, that, to date, charter quality and charter market share have only moved in one direction: up.

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