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Reform: Can The Charter Quality Movement Gain Traction?

One_Million_Lives_Logo_WebAn announcement is just that -- a statement of intentions about things that haven't happened yet.  And this isn't the first time that charter quality proponents like NACSA's Greg Richmond have tried to rein in the charter school movement.  (Disclosure: I've done some freelance writing and research for them.) 

But NACSA's new "One Million Lives" might be the largest and have the greatest chances of success -- if it can find ways to pick up additional powerful allies and do what so few inside the reform movement are willing to do: name states, authorizers, networks, and specific schools. And if the reform movement can get over its collective denial.

The effort faces some daunting challenges:  NACSA isn't NAPCS, the Nina Rees-led national organization that represents charter school operators.  And the Obama administration shortsheeted the charter quality movement when it required states to remove charter caps as a condition of being eligible for Race to the Top with no real quality (or diversity) requirements.  There are still plenty of charter apologists out there, who want to focus on the high performing networks and generally ignore the broader quality problem.  

But this time out, Richmond has New Jersey and California charter associations standing with him, and claims to have support from foundations like Gates that have previously been focused on charter growth rather than charter quality.  As I've noted several times here in the past, cost, sustainability and quality problems have put several foundations off the charter growth bandwagon.  The current Gates Foundation initiative focuses on charter-district collaboration, for example.  
Take a look at the Huffington Post story on the rollout ((Charter School Proponents To Announce Major Focus On Shutting Down Failing Schools) then ask yourself where are the other quality-minded state charter organizations -- Illinois, I'm looking at you -- and the reform advocacy organizations? Where is the Obama administration on charter quality?  And hey, NACSA, how about naming some names?

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