The Lens
Bringing vision and clarity to education policy
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In the last few years, those at the helm of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) have become increasingly hostile to the city’s fast-growing charter school sector. Last year, the school board refused (despite a directive from the state to approve) a charter application from Great Hearts Academy, a respected Arizona charter management organization. This is despite the fact that only about 40% of the district’s students in grades 3-8 are meeting proficiency standards.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Governance reforms – those that open public education to innovation, new providers, competition, and family choice – often start with suspension of normal local politics, via mayoral or state takeovers that bypass the elected local school board.

This trend would make Thomas Jefferson happy. Noting that any governance arrangement is subject to what political scientists call capture – domination by particular interests – Jefferson recommended a revolution every 20 years. Getting rid of an elected board is certainly revolutionary.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A few weeks ago, after I gave a presentation on the opportunities and challenges of the portfolio model, a charter school proponent asked me, “Robin, do you really believe districts can innovate?”

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One jolting result from the generally sobering New York State Common Core test results was that charter schools fared worse than previously when compared to other New York public schools. Although student background was not taken into account, many New York charter schools’ proficiency scores were simply not as impressive as on other exams. Critics say this is proof that much-touted high-performing charters are simply fact-drilling credit mills, built to raise scores on outmoded tests.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fourth in a CRPE Blog Series on Education Governance as a Civic Enterprise

Those who have done well under traditional school governance systems are frightened by the ideas of families choosing their schools, schools controlling their own budgets and staffing, and meaningful accountability structures encompassing all schools. When people see disadvantaged kids getting access to better schools and teachers being able to choose their colleagues, opposition may wane. But when leaders change, reforms—even when they’re working—are vulnerable.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Third in a CRPE Blog Series on Education Governance as a Civic Enterprise

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Second in a CRPE Blog Series on Education Governance as a Civic Enterprise

Educators often let me know they are passionately opposed to charter schools. “If freedom is so good for schools,” they ask, “then why not give it to all of them, not just charter schools?”

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