Regardless whether you support charter schools or deny their right to operate, one thing is certain–charter schools must simply step up their game for kids. My most research accounts roughly 20% perform above their geographic counterparts operated by the local school district, 35% do about the same and roughly 45% DO WORSE than their traditional counterparts. Varying research reports vary only a few percentage points. The point is we must get more from these schools, where (like traditional public schools) millions of kids are either trapped or thriving.
When you delve deeper into these data points, it is revealed that among the under-performing charter schools, most are managed by for-profit entities (examples of for-profit school entities are Edison and Mosaica). Those charter schools that seem to more often thrive by out performing their traditional counterparts more often are run by non-profit entities (examples of non-profit school entities are KIPP and Green Dot). This is both noteworthy and disturbing.
After serving in one of the for-profit school entities, I can tell you that these corporate cultures tend to be much like navigating a school district central office for marshaling resources for educational purposes. Much is wasted on non-educational matters such as lobbyists for seeking more business, and the like.
The point of my post today is not to decry the merits of for-profit v. non-profit. It is to say that we must call on all charter schools to step up for kids. The very nature of charters is to allow a more nimble (less policy-driven) entity to play to the needs of kids and teachers in the work they do. Simply achieving better success in only 20% of the schools is unacceptable–if kids really do matter.