Charters show the way forward

Given the US challenge of achieving quality at scale—the combination of equity and excellence—the most important innovation of the last decade is charter networks.  Their success is undeniable.  Their lessons are clear.  Key elements include:

  • clear goals and a strong college-bound no-excuses culture;
  • data-driven instruction and performance-based employment;
  • extended learning time and personalized environments;
  • efficient support services and knowledge management; and
  • effective leadership—school, community, network

Perhaps most important, charters give us a picture of a sound governance alternative to school districts based on accountability and autonomy.    Dozens of charter management organizations have taken advantage of the opportunity to design systems of school from scratch creating strong examples of high performance organizations.  Schools shouldn’t get tenure; if they are not serving their community effectively they should be closed.  All schools should operate under a performance contract.
(National Journal response to “do charters deserve all the attention they are getting from the Obama administration”)

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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1 Comment

John Danner

Except as EdSector ( points out, the CMO's who are consistently closing the achievement gap don't have operating models which allow them to scale to thousands of schools. I really hope we see adoption of more efficient model's like Rocketship's hybrid model or anything else. We are not going to fund our way through this.

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