Report: 'Savvy leadership' necessary to make district-charter collaboration work
- Successful district-charter partnerships require “savvy leadership” and intentional efforts to build a coalition that involves city leaders and community organizations, according to a new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington. “Collaboration rarely ‘just happens,” the authors, Ashley Jochim, Sarah Yatsko and Alice Opalka, write. “It relies upon the strength of each sector’s commitment to the effort in the short and longer term.”
- The report, “Collision Course: Embracing Politics to Succeed in District-Charter Collaboration,” notes that partnerships can only succeed when both district and charter leaders see an advantage in working together. But they add that factors, such as declining enrollment in district schools, a weak charter sector — including schools with mediocre results — and unfavorable community and school board politics, can make collaboration less likely.
- The authors also note that it’s important to work toward broader support of collaboration. If partnership, for example, relies on a supportive superintendent or school board, the relationships might not be sustained when there is turnover in those positions.
With competition between district and charter schools growing more intense in some parts of the country, the report provides some guidance for those educators and city leaders who are interested in finding some common ground. The authors provide examples, such the Chicago Public Schools and a state charter network working together to advocate for education funding and an effort in Denver in which district and charter leaders partnered to increase opportunities for students with special needs to learn in regular classrooms.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded CRPE’s work, has been leading efforts to strengthen partnerships between district and charter schools with its District-Charter Collaboration Compact initiative. Since 2013, 23 cities have signed the compacts, which are a way to communicate how the two sectors will work together. This newest report notes the barriers to collaboration in some of those cities, including Cleveland, Philadelphia and Nashville.
- Center on Reinventing Public Education Collision Course: Embracing Politics to Succeed in District-Charter Collaboration
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