In public education, the nation’s fastest-improving cities have embraced both charter schools and charter-like “innovation” or “renaissance” schools: public schools with real autonomy (some run by nonprofit organizations), real accountability for performance (including closure if their students are falling too far behind), and a variety of learning models from which families can choose. Those rapidly improving cities include New Orleans, Washington, Denver, and Chicago.
Imagine the progress possible if a state decided to push its urban districts to emulate such models. Texas is doing just that, using carrots – including $120 million in grants and assistance over two years – and sticks to convince urban districts to embrace the new approach.
“I think Texas has used district-level incentives and implementation support for districts who want to move more towards 21st century school systems in a far more thoughtful way than any other state,” says Chris Barbic, who ran Tennessee‘s Achievement School District for its first four years and now invests in state efforts to turn around struggling districts and schools through his position at the Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
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