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PPI School Reform Newsblast: 25th Anniversary of the First Charter School

We are delighted to send you this inaugural issue of the School Reform Newsblast, a new information service launched by Reinventing America’s Schools. It aggregates important news about developments in school innovation and reform across the country. The Newsblast is going to a select audience of school reform leaders and activists in government, business, and the civic sector, and we hope you find it useful.

Reinventing America’s Schools is a project of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), a longtime advocate for improving and modernizing the nation’s elementary and secondary public schools. The project’s director is David Osborne, the co-author of Reinventing Government, a best seller that had a profound impact on President Bill Clinton’s efforts to make government less bureaucratic and more performance-oriented. David is working on a new book that will show how cities across America are developing a new model for organizing and governing public education.

In addition to keeping you abreast of developments on the K-12 reform front, the Newsblast from time to time will update you on the project’s work, and solicit your comments and ideas. To highlight developments in your community, please email us at ReinventingEd@progressivepolicy.org. Ultimately, we hope to forge a nationwide network of influential people like yourself and encourage you to weigh in with political leaders when critical decisions about K-12 reform are made.

With the 25th anniversary of the first charter school bill in June, conversations about the 21st century model of school governance were big in the press. Hot button issues included the false binary of school choice and democratic control, the future of charter schools, school accountability, and much more. In articles written in the past month, Chester E. Finn, Jr., Bruno V. Manno, Brandon Wright, and Matt Barnum discussed the successes of charter schools and THE importance of accountability. In other pieces, Andy Smarick, Peter Cunningham, Danielle Dreilinger, and Chris Gabrieli explored the debate over the best model of school governance. With the 25th anniversary of charters and the presidential conventions coinciding this past month, we were provided important material to consider as we promote 21st century school governance across the nation.

  • School choice or democratic control? Andy Smarick addresses the false binary and offers an option that blends the two together. As communities struggle with the politics of education, Smarick thinks about how to bridge ideological divides for the benefit of families. 
  • As the charter school movement hit its 25th anniversary, Chester Finn, Bruno Manno, and Brandon Wright reflect on the successes of charter schools and areas where charter schools have fallen short. The authors conclude that there is still a lot of untapped potential in the charter school movement.
  • Democrats are at risk of compromising their past educational positions in support of charters and public school choice, which benefitted minority and poor children. This article pushes the Democratic party to take a closer look at its new stances on a number of issues, including school accountability, school closures, school choice, standardized testing, and more.
  • All eyes are on Orleans Parish School Board as New Orleans’ public schools return from state to local oversight. New Orleans has proven to be the nation’s greatest success story in implementing the 21st century model of education. These new developments will have locally elected officials oversee the nation’s fastest improving school system.
  • WATCH: In this video, recorded at Empower Schools’ “Third Way” conference, Chris Gabrieli discusses a Third Way of school governance, one in between the traditional district model and the newer charter-only portfolio model. This Third Way, which promotes autonomy and district-charter collaboration, is intriguing but has yet to yield clear results.
  • As a bonus, we have a video of David Osborne’s panel from that conference.