Research is clear that charter schools are no silver bullet to education reform. So the debate needs to move beyond whether charter schools are more effective than traditional public schools and get back to the original intent of charter schools—to be incubators of innovations.
Charter schools directly impact just over 5 percent of students nationwide so even if all charters were deemed more effective than traditional public schools they would still only impact a small proportion of students. What would be more effective is to apply best practices from effective charter schools to our traditional public schools where possible.
Unfortunately, this is not a common occurrence. All too often districts and charter schools act as competitors instead of allies in improving student achievement. Fortunately, this appears to be changing. As the Hartford, CT school board voted to take part in a grant program funded by the Gates Foundation aimed at increasing the communication between charter schools and the school district. Hartford joins a handful of other districts across the nation to participate in the grant program which is a good sign that the lines of communications appear to be opening between charter schools and districts. The more they can learn from each other the better off our students will be. – Jim Hull