Reinventing America’s Schools

Publications

The Progressive Roots of Charter Schools

Improving public education has long been a cornerstone of the Democratic platform. Because progressives understand that access to a quality education is the gateway to a better life, our decades-long struggle to promote equal rights and opportunity for all Americans has been deeply tied to our struggle to create an effective public school system. In…

Do-Something Congress No. 10: Fighting Inequality by Reinventing America's Schools

Progressives are rightly concerned about inequality, but some overlook the crucial role that underperforming public schools play in perpetuating poverty and inequality in America. The poor quality of many school systems is a serious impediment to social mobility for children from low-income and minority families, who can’t easily pick up and move to communities with…

Creating a 21st Century Education System: Reinventing America's Schools - An Abridged Version

For a century, our public education system was the backbone of our success as a nation. By creating one of the world’s first mass education systems, free to all children, we forged the most educated workforce in the world. The creation of standardized, unified school systems with monopolies on free schooling had a dramatic impact…

The Need For Equal Funding For Indiana Charter Schools

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools operated by independent organizations. Freed from many rules and topdown policies constraining district-operated schools, charter school leaders have direct control over most school-level decisions. Indiana has the best charter school law in the country, according to the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, because it allows full operational flexibility…

America's Resilient Center and the Road to 2020 - Results from a New National Survey

The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) today released a national opinion survey that highlights the surprising resilience of America’s pragmatic political center two years into Donald Trump’s deeply polarizing presidency. The poll reinforces a key takeaway from the 2018 midterm elections: Suburban voters – especially women – are repelled by the president’s racial and cultural demagoguery…

Why Suburban Districts Need Public Charter Schools Too

On November 8, 2016, while the rest of the world anxiously awaited the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, a subset of voters with a keen interest in education had their eyes on Massachusetts. This was the day Bay Staters would vote on Ballot Question 2, a proposal to raise the state’s cap on public…

The Progressive Choice: Creating 21st Century School Systems

Progressives have long understood that access to a quality education is the one factor that consistently and permanently changes the trajectory of a life. As such, creating a strong public school system has been at the epicenter of our decades-long struggle to promote equal rights and equal opportunity for all. For many of America’s families…

Can Urban Districts Get Charter-like Performance With Charter-lite Schools?

Over the past 15 years, cities across the country have experienced rapid growth in the number of public charter schools serving their students. When implemented with fidelity, the charter formula – autonomy, choice, diversity of school designs, and real accountability –produces continuous improvements in school quality, with impressive student gains in charter schools serving high-minority,…

Union's Retrograde Report Earns Failing Grade: A Response to the NEA's Policy Statement on Charter Schools

Last week, the National Education Association (NEA) voted to adopt a new policy statement[1] on public charter schools. Ignoring mounting evidence that the best charter systems are finally giving urban children a shot at a decent education, the NEA calls for a moratorium on the creation and expansion of public charter schools. The NEA says…

The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership

Springfield, Massachusetts, is where the United States’ one wholly indigenous sport – basketball – was invented. It may soon be known for a completely different innovation. The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership (SEZP) is an attempt to create within the public schools the conditions that make charter schools successful, without the poisonous politics that often accompany…

An Educational Revolution in Indianapolis

Our urban school systems struggle because so many of their students live in poverty, but they also struggle because they were designed a hundred years ago, for an industrial society. In an increasing number of cities, they are being replaced by 21st century systems, in which the central administration does not operate all schools and…

Creating Measurement and Accountability Systems for 21st Century Schools: A Guide for State Policymakers

Because Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last December, states are revamping their federally required systems to measure school quality and hold schools accountable for performance. But most are doing so using outdated assumptions, holdovers from the Industrial Era, when cookiecutter public schools followed orders from central headquarters and students were assigned to…

A 21st Century School System in the Mile High City

Some of the most dramatic gains in urban education have come from school districts using what many call a “portfolio strategy.” Others call it “reinvention,” a “21st century approach,” or “relinquishment.” By whatever name, it generally means that districts negotiate performance agreements with some mix of traditional, charter, and hybrid public schools, allow them great…

Memo to the Presidential Candidates: To Reduce Inequality, Reinvent Public Schools

Growing inequality has emerged as a central issue in the 2016 presidential election. Yet none of you has paid much attention to a major source of economic inequality in America: the uneven quality of our public schools. As far as we can determine, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has no thoughts on how to improve K-12…

U.S. News: The Schools of the Future

The first time I visited a Summit Public School, in February 2014, I pulled up in front of a one-story building in an office park. I was sure I had the wrong address – but no, there was a sign. This was Summit Denali, in Sunnyvale, California. Inside, my surprise deepened. All the students, then…

Schools of the Future: California's Summit Public Schools

The first time I visited a Summit Public School, in February 2014, I pulled up in front of a long, low, one-story building in an office park setting. I was sure I had the wrong address—but no, there was a sign. This was Summit Denali, in Sunnyvale, California. Inside, my surprise deepened. All the students,…

A Tale of Two Systems: Education Reform in Washington D.C.

An important contest is taking place in Washington, D.C.—a race between two vehicles designed to carry children into the future with the habits and skills they need to live productive, meaningful lives. The older of the two, the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), uses a “unified governance model” that emerged more than a century…

Improving Charter School Accountability: The Challenge of Closing Failing Schools

Today some 5,600 charter schools are in operation, with more than two million students. Some critics persist in a fruitless argument that these schools have failed, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. But regardless of your opinion about them, charter schools are here to stay. Those concerned about public education should quit debating…