As the school choice debate becomes more polarized, Robin Lake urges education leaders to doube down on working across sector lines.
Policymakers and practitioners increasingly seek engagement and cooperation between charter schools and traditional school districts to solve critical problems in education.
CRPE studies district-charter partnerships across the nation as part of our research on nearly 50 cities pursuing a portfolio strategy. We also regularly interview leaders in school districts, charter schools, and support organizations in cities that have formalized their partnerships through District-Charter Collaboration Compacts supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. CRPE researchers track progress on these compact agreements, report on local political, legal, and financial barriers to collaboration, and facilitate networking and problem solving between cities. To date, 23 cities have signed compacts; 19 of these cities are also portfolio cities. In addition, we work with Florida’s Department of Education to support and monitor state-funded collaborative efforts there. As research has shown, when done well, collective action through collaboration can result in tangible results.
For Charter Schools
• Improved access to facilities, funding, and student enrollment
• Reduced political tensions
• Greater exposure to district expertise
• Expanded reach and impact beyond school walls
For School Districts:
• Partnering in the work of ensuring high-quality schools in all neighborhoods
• Sharing costs, including recruitment and transportation
• Gaining access to innovative professional development and curriculum
For the Community:
• More high-quality school options available for students
• Better services for English language learners and special education students
• Streamlined school information and enrollment systems
Over the past five years, CRPE has learned that many challenges exist when trying to work across traditionally competitive boundaries. However, there is much promise for collaboration as part of a citywide education strategy.
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