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Restoring Shanker’s Vision for Charter Schools

TCF fellows Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter explain how the original idea of charter schools as imagined by Albert Shanker has mutated over the past decade to reflect a different vision and function. They cite that many charter schools today now prize management control, reduced teacher voice, further segregated students, and have become competitors, rather than allies, of regular public schools.

The relevant question today is no longer whether charter schools are good or bad as a group. Rather we ask, can charter schools be taken in a better direction—one that finds inspiration in the original vision of charters as laboratories for student success that bring together children from different backgrounds and tap into the expertise of highly talented teachers?

Kahlenberg and Potter's full piece can be read here.

Tags: teacher voice, racially integrated public schools, education reform, education inequality, charter schools

Don’t Misunderstand How Charter Schools Succeed

TCF fellows Halley Potter and Richard Kahlenberg clarify the assumptions around what drives charter school success. They explain that the high test scores produced by charter school students are often a result of their peer environments and the encouraging families that make up the charter school community. 

Removing students with behavioral issues from the classroom is the wrong way to achieve education goals, for a host of educational, legal and moral reasons. But research shows that we can provide the positive learning environment that charters work to instate by giving more students a chance to attend economically integrated public schools.

Read Halley and Richard's full piece from The New York Times.

Tags: public school integration, educational diversity, charter schools

The New Segregation

TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg and the Center for American Progress’ Carl Chancellor take to the pages of the Washington Monthly to argue that it’s class, not race, that is at the heart of America’s educational system woes. The key to fixing the problem lies in changing our housing policies. Here’s Kahlenberg and Chancellor:

Concerned that poor and working-class families were being priced out of the county, officials pioneered “inclusionary zoning,” which allows for so-called scattered-site public housing—meaning that poor residents live throughout the county, including fairly affluent areas. Under the policy, 12.5 percent to 15 percent of developers’ new housing stock is required to be affordable to low-income and working-class families. 

Read the full article at Washington Monthly.

Tags: socioeconomic integration, socioeconomic diversity, segregation, montgomery county, housing policy, cap

For D.C. Schools, Race and Class Still Define the System

TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg talks to WAMU about public schools in the District of Columbia, and offers suggestions for improving outcomes for students. Says Kahlenberg:

We’re all about let’s try to improve the high poverty schools, where we pack all the poor kids into one educational setting. But there is a half-century of research to suggest that probably one of the best things you can do to improve the education of all children is to give them access to an economically integrated environment.

Read the full article.

Tags: wamu, socioeconomic integration, racially integrated public schools, michelle rhee, d.c. public schools

Teaching with Autonomy

What is it like to work at a school at which teachers and and administrators run the school as equal partners? Guest author Demetria R. Giles of Teaching Firms of America—Professional Prep Charter School says the results at her school speak for themselves.

Tags: teacher voice, smarter charter series, charter schools

Ensuring Equity in Charter Schools

If we could have the best school we can imagine, what would it be?

In a new post at Education Week, TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg and fellow Halley Potter explore how City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore is answering that question.

Chartering gave City Neighbors' founders the flexibility to do things that are fairly unusual among charter schools. The charter school model has allowed them to pioneer a collaborative governance structure that includes teacher representation on the governing board and provides large blocks of shared planning time—while remaining part of the city school district's collective bargaining agreement.

Read the full article at Education Week.

Tags: smarter charter series, city neighbors charter school, charter schools, baltimore




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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