Smarick on the Quiet Revolution of Charter Schooling

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Good read from Andy on charter schooling at the quarter century:

All these particular issues, however, underscore a basic point: Chartering has quietly revolutionized public schooling. It didn’t happen through clever, technocratic administrative fixes or a gigantic, rapidly passed omnibus legislative package. Nor did it humbly take for granted longstanding arrangements or merely tinker with the mechanics of existing programs. Instead, chartering took the long view. It trusted families and communities, carved out space for a new approach, and then allowed civil society to slowly create and change the new system. The result has been more individual empowerment, educational options, respect for pluralism, competition, civic-sector activity, innovation, and entrepreneurialism.

That is indeed how charter schooling looks like out here in the Cactus Patch- a long term bet on self-determination that paid off in an absolutely spectacular fashion. Well, I mean, if you consider getting a large majority-minority student population to score near the average student in Massachusetts for about half the per pupil funding given to schools in that high-income and pale complected state spectacular. I mean I guess it really depends on where you put the bar and all.  Little Ramona for instance doesn’t like it because the sector isn’t as prone to regulatory capture in ultra low turnout elections dominated by organized employee interests governed by school districts.

I also see much wisdom in the incremental gradualism that has marked the first 25 years of charter schooling, but also a ton of reasons to speed things up.

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5 Responses to Smarick on the Quiet Revolution of Charter Schooling

  1. sstotsky says:

    So far as I can see in this MIT study on charter schools in MA (which did compare lottery-chosen kids), effective urban charters in MA were characterized by the use of “5 practices.” I don’t see anyone promoting those 5 practices for all urban charters, never mind all urban public school kids. (See top of p. 24).
    https://seii.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Explaining-Charter-School-Effectiveness.pdf

  2. sstotsky says:

    I didn’t promote one size fits all. I simply wondered why one wouldn’t promote the 5 practices associated with effective charter schools (since that is what researchers are supposedly trying to find out). Not on the ballot or promoted by the MA DoE, secretary of ed, or the governor.

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