The Charter Blog

The Charter Blog

Nelson Smith

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Whose School Buildings Are They, Anyway?

July 12, 2012 | by Nelson Smith |

A couple of years ago, in a speech at the National Charter Schools Conference in Chicago, I said it was time to break the traditional district monopoly on public school facilities. The audience’s response was really strong – confirming that this was an issue whose time had come.

Midnight in Georgia

May 19, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

Pretty amazing week. Charter School Hall of Famer John King was named New York State education commissioner; New Schools Venture Fund’s Summit 2011 brought the "edurati" together for another exhilarating brainfest; liberal icon Howard Deandeclared charters “the future”; the UFT and NYC’s NAACP chapter filed another lawsuit to block closure of failing schools and co-locations with charters; and...

Washingtonian Disses Board, Misses Point

March 14, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

It’s good to see the GAO’s new report giving a high-five to my alma mater, the DC Public Charter School Board. The PCSB is a standard-setter in its field, recognized as such by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

Money can’t buy success. Or explain failure.

March 10, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

I recently suggested to a group of education researchers they should develop some kind of algorithm to inflate charter school test scores according to each state’s gap in public funding between charters and district-run schools. I was kidding, but trying to acknowledge an elephant in the room. Whatever charter schools are accomplishing, they’re doing it on far less than district schools. Yet,...

Are You Walking Away from a Chance for Funds?

March 03, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

It’s well-established charter schools get less public funding than their district counterparts. But charters may also be ignoring some competitive-funding opportunities.

David Kearns

March 01, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

We lost a giant last weekend. David Kearns blazed a trail of innovation as CEO of Xerox and then answered a plea from former President George H.W. Bush to serve as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education. There, among many other accomplishments, he created New American Schools, the non-profit that fostered “whole-school” models such as Expeditionary Learning and Modern Red Schoolhouse – and in doing...

Dr. Tell? Don't Ask!

February 27, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

One of the advantages of reading the news online is that you get reader comments too. That helps when a curious piece appears – as in the case of one Shawgi Tell, Ph.D., who reminded Rochester readers of some “overlooked facts” about charter schools in a Saturday op-ed. Facts such as “Many principals at charter schools lack the same credentials as their counterparts in traditional public schools”...

Thoughtless Pause

February 09, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

Elegant phraseology doesn’t conceal the fact that the “thoughtful pause” proposed by Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee is a moratorium on charter growth. Some actual thinking has been provided by RI-CAN, the state’s new ed-reform group, who looked at data and found that charters are pushing achievement upward. Think again, Governor.

Harriett Ball, RIP

February 02, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

A great teacher died yesterday. Back in the '90s, Harriett Ball took two rookie Houston teachers under her wing and showed them how to make a classroom a joyous place to learn … and then travelled with Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg through the amazing journey of KIPP, while continuing to teach and consult. We were proud to induct this great lady into the Charter School Hall of Fame along with her...

Delivering on the Promise in Missouri

January 31, 2011 | by Nelson Smith |

The Land of Truman has a unique charter environment. State law restricts chartering to St. Louis and Kansas City, but charter schools account for major market share in both places. Where 90 percent of charter authorizers around the country are local school districts, it’s universities that oversee nearly all the charters in the Show-Me state. There are some stars but, alas, way too many charters...

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