Great charter schools can go beyond their students to improve the education landscape for everyone. That’s why we say this movement is not about a particular kind of governance structure, it’s about great public schools.
The spill-over benefits from charter schools often involve innovation and sharing, but old-fashioned competition also has its place.
This morning’s New York Times carries a perfect example. Jennifer Medina reports that district schools in Harlem are trying to boost enrollment by actively recruiting parentsówhich leads to detailed conversations about what the schools have to offer.†
This new emphasis on attracting parents is a sign of the pressure district schools feel from nearby charter schools, which sign up hopeful parents by the thousands. When that causes district schools to see their enrollments dwindle, and worry about possible closure, connecting with parents takes on a new importance.
Does extra marketing create achievement? Of course not.
But a heightened sense of urgency and responsiveness is good news for district students, just as the need to appeal to parents has always been a productive pressure on charters. This isn’t a zero-sum game.