Today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the Center on School Turnaround released a joint publication I authored, entitled: Chartering Turnaround: Leveraging Charter School Autonomy to Address Failure. This paper explores how charter schools and charter autonomies can be used to turnaround chronically low-performing of schools, via:
- Traditional public school restart (TPS restart): Converting a low-performing traditional public school to public charter school status via the SIG restart model or via another accountability mechanism that requires a turnaround strategy;
- Closure and replacement: Starting one or more new charters schools in locations with high concentrations of recently closed low-performing schools; and
- Charter school restart (charter restart): Transferring management of an underperforming public charter school to new management and new board governance.
The paper discusses each of these options at a high-level, and then delves into case studies of three Charter Management Organizations using the TPS restart model to turnaround schools. The case studies are the core of the paper, and were my favorite part to research and write. Finding out about what’s working, what’s not working, and how practitioners in the field rise to the numerous barriers they face, while thinking out-of-the-box to problem solve is one of the best parts of my job. Speaking to the leaders of these three organizations was inspiring and revives my spirit in a sometimes daunting field.
Charter schools, and the charter autonomies they work under, provide us a unique opportunity to think outside of the traditional school building turnaround. It’s time we stop thinking about just preserving chronically under performing building and start thinking about how we can change turnaround opportunities for students. Charter schools, and their autonomies. are not a panacea for low-performing schools, but they do provide us with additional options that should be explored by policymakers and practitioners.