The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, recently released Public Accountability for Charter Schools: Standards and Policy Recommendations for Effective Oversight.
1] The introduction states: “The semi-independent charter school model, first applied in 1991, aimed to look outside traditional school structures and develop innovative strategies that could be applied at scale across all public schools. Early charters schools took on this challenge, and many succeeded. But over the last two decades, those who envision charters as competing with and ultimately replacing traditional public schools have become some of the most dominant voices in the policy debate over the reform. Chartering has become an industry, and in many cases, rapid expansion has replaced innovation and excellence as goals. Almost 2,000 charter schools have opened in the past five years, along with a burgeoning market of management service providers, vendors, think tanks, policy shops, and advocacy organizations.”
As the birthplace of the charter school movement, Minnesota has not to this point succumbed to the voices that rapid expansion is the goal of the chartering movement, and hopefully we never will. The chartering movement in this state has never been about ultimately replacing traditional public schools. It has, and hopefully will always be, about unleashing education from the conventions that inhibit education from being innovative and providing students with the best possible education in which they can achieve their goals and aspirations.
2] The Annenberg Report is interesting in that it seems to make three assumptions: 1] that state charter school laws have not kept up with the dynamic change in chartering; 2] that traditional school districts are the authorizers of charter schools; and 3] that charter schools are for the most part operated by outside charter management organizations.
While these assumptions may be the reality in other states, none of these are the reality in Minnesota.
Our reality is that: 1] we have annually amended our charter school law to address the changing dynamics of the lived experience of chartering; 2] we have seen traditional school districts withdraw as authorizers when new accountability provisions have been put in place, and 3] all but a handful of charters in this state are operated by local folks and, not an organization from another state.