Exploring Options for Parents: Innovation & Alternatives in Schooling

So, Nathan and I are tag-teaming the concurrent sessions - he's attending the session "Beyond the Test", which he thought appropriate for "the student", hence, this session for "the parent". Live-blogging, updating as we go

The panel is moderated by Paige Kowalski of the Data Quality Campaign. Panelists: Todd Ziebarth, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Robin Lake, Center for Reinventing Public Education; Todd Mann, Magnet Schools of America 

Todd Z: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is an advocacy organization for public charter schools here in DC, represent on The Hill, partner with states (just began connecting with Kentucky, the 44th state about to enact charter schools). Lots of myths around public charter schools. Many think they are private entities.

Robin: research and policy center, we're different in that we try to stay grounded in "effective schools and effective classrooms". Biggest myth: charter schools take money away from district schools.

Todd M: magnet schools were begun to give parents a choice to send their students to reduce racial isolation in the early 70s, as an alternative to forced school busing.

Paige: Choice in DCPS, includes charters and traditional public schools; common application for all schools. Evidence in what we know about charters - what works? What evidence do we have that they make sense?

Robin: Very hard to give you a picture of charter schools at the national view because each school and state is different. Online charters have across the board not worked well. Boston: quality is a non-negotiable.

Todd Z: get data about their own context (City or State), try to match up across country, other states and cities/towns.

Todd M: impact of magnet schools on student performance, achievement, positive

Paige: What would "Choice 2.0" look like?

Todd M: the emphasis on accountability.

Robin: As we continue to push forward on accountability, need to see ways authorizers can encourage risk-taking beyond the test

Todd Z: Market-driven choice taught us that parent choice is a good thing but an insufficient thing for implementing quality. Need more quality options.

Paige: We can have a hard time getting our heads around choice in rural settings. How can we improve?

Todd Z: People think charters are only for urban districts. 45% are in rural and suburban areas, which tells me that parents want options.

Ohio: grateful to hear comments about rural settings; concern is revenue (tax incentives for businesses...) what's the longevity and stability of options for the life of the child? (great question)

Robin: many options are home grown; can be a retention strategy
Todd Z: vast majority of charters open in rural areas are opened by teachers and parents living in those communities


Massachusetts: Ballot initiative defeated 2:1 on expanding charters (November 2016); big reason they lost because of draw on public school resources and no public oversight. What method will we use to determine parent demand for options?

Todd M: Values
Paige: Programming; parents
Todd Z: Survey data always shows parents want options; a variety of ways 

Paige: What next steps people can take back to their states?

Todd Z: It depends. In some states, like MA, SBE is the authorizer. Maintain a focus on quality. Applications. People may be over-correcting for bad decisions of the past. 
Robin: Do some really good listening to parents, think about what options are missing from your environment.
Todd M: Do your research. Look at ways Magnet Schools can be used.
Paige: SBEs all have a role to play and parents need access to public information.

End.