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Reviews of “Better Together: Ensuring Quality District Schools in Times of Charter Growth and Declining Enrollment”

Our report, Better Together: Ensuring Quality District Schools in Times of Charter Growth and Declining Enrollment, is intended to spur constructive dialogue and action on a complex issue that has long divided education leaders. Here’s what experts from across the district and charter spectrum are saying about CRPE’s approach and possible solutions to this pressing problem. Our new blog series captures more voices.

"With lawsuits in Florida, squabbles in Pennsylvania, and budget tug-of-wars in nearly every charter state, this report couldn't be more timely. It's full of insights that should help reset this accelerating debate, and should be read by charter leaders, superintendents, school boards, and state policymakers."

- Nelson Smith, Former president, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

"As enrollment changes in school systems, it is imperative that district leaders be proactive, simultaneously addressing facilities utilization, economies in district budgets, and, most important, school quality. When enrollments decline, district leaders have a choice: ignore the change or use it as a chance to be more efficient and to raise hard questions about performance."

- John White, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education

"Better Together effectively busts some enduring myths about the relationship between traditional school district enrollment decline and the rise of public charter schools. While CRPE is careful to present a nuanced view, their researchers issue clear recommendations for how district, charter, civic, and philanthropic leaders can come together for the common good. Politics will never go away, but now sober leaders across sectors have a valuable resource to help them set aside their differences."

- Ethan Gray, Founder & CEO, Education Cities

“Too often, educators and policy leaders find themselves in separate corners arguing for district children or charter children. We need to be focused on all children, and to do that the adults in the education system need to practice what they preach to the children: work well together.”

- Mike Feinberg, Co-Founder, KIPP

"No group has striven harder over that period to find a workable balance than the Seattle-based Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). Better Together: Ensuring Quality District Schools in Times of Charter Growth and Declining Enrollment is CRPE’s latest effort to bring a moderate, research-based middle-ground to the fraught charter/district relationship that is still too often defined by acrimony, blame, and zero-sum arguments."

- Terry Ryan, CEO, BLUUM

"Finally, a fair, thorough report that sheds light on the misleading notion that charters are the cause of financial ruin of school districts. Traditional school districts and charter schools serve children and each need to find ways to embrace that reality and look for solutions to collaborate to support that common goal. In doing so, they avoid a zero-sum game and advance a win-win."

- Paul Pastorek, Former Louisiana State Superintendent of Education

"The district leaders I work with are aware of the financial and educational challenges associated with declining enrollment, but tackling these requires a combination of tough choices and policy changes that often need broad political action and the involvement of the entire educational community along with strong leadership. This is why transparency and open dialog around these issues is so critical.”

- Karen Hawley Miles, President, Education Resource Strategies

"I believe we all have to work together to improve public education as a whole. This is the start of an important dialogue. Charters face many of the same challenges as district schools, like dealing with escalating pension costs and finding funding for teacher development. The report raises important questions about how to deal with inelastic district administrative and infrastructure expenses. Charters can help solve these challenges, not by ceasing to exist but by lending creative solutions and pushing elected officials to adopt more flexible responses to change."

- Caprice Young, CEO and Superintendent of Magnolia Public Schools

"Ensuring that every student in our country receives a high-quality education requires us to move beyond zero-sum, district versus charter thinking. Better Together issues an important call for citywide collaborations that tackle the structural challenges shared by public schools of all types."

- David Harris, Founder and CEO, The Mind Trust

“We especially agree with CRPE’s conclusion that we need a statewide accountability system that includes a common definition of academic performance that aligns with state definitions and expectations. We also agree with CRPE that we need to close the funding gap between charter public schools and traditional public schools, and that we need to have weighted per-pupil funding based on poverty. The goal is to make sure that every school is a quality school – charter and traditional alike. We know that a rising tide lifts all boats – that charter schools help traditional schools get better. As we review the CRPE report, let’s keep that in mind.”

- Dan Quisenberry, President, Michigan Association of Public School Academies

"This report defines a critical issue facing many districts around the country, one that can no longer be ignored by either district or charter sector leadership. It outlines important ways that leaders of both districts and charters can begin to address the problem collaboratively, and is clear that, while acknowledging there are very real challenges, reaching solutions together will have the most positive impact on the students and families we seek to serve."

- Carol A. Swann, Coordinator of Charter Schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools


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