Not surprising that charters weren’t more common

I’m not surprised that less than 5% of schools receiving School Improvement Grant funds chose the charter takeover model. See EdWeek’s Politics K-12 blog for more detail on which federally recommended improvement model schools selected. Why am I not surprised?

1) the districts usually write the SIG applications, so why (besides for the well-being of students) would a district choose to relinquish control over a school (and the money that comes with it)?

2) the SIG timeline was extremely tight. Efforts were supposed to begin this school year, so if a charter takeover was selected, it’d be logistically challenging (though not impossible) to transition a school during the school year and to potentially have the old failing school and the new charter school working in the same building.

3) Some states still don’t have charter laws, so it immediately takes that option off the table, especially in more rural states.

4) There’s a lack of good Charter Management Organizations who are willing to take on turnaround efforts, “new starts” are much easier than transitioning a chronically low-performing school.

A charter takeover may be “cleaner,” but it also requires a great deal of political will and community support to become successful. The charter takeover option may become more popular if some of the initial transformation and turnaround efforts aren’t successful.

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