Baltimore joins Gates Foundation effort to foster district-charter collaboration
Baltimore is among nine districts around the country that has signed on to the latest project by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , which is geared toward fostering collaboration between public and charter schools to explore the best of what each model has to offer to students districtwide.
The project, formerly called the "District-charter collaborative compact," was announced this morning during a conference call with education reporters.
Vicki Phillps, director of education for the Gates Foundation, said that the initiative could diffuse a longstanding tension between privately run charters and traditional public schools. “Too often these stale debates make it difficult for teachers and schools to learn from each other,” Phillips said.
Baltimore will join other districts like New York, Denver and New Orleans in receiving a $100,000 education grant for signing onto a pact--literally a written contract among charter and school system leaders--that will stipulate information and data sharing about what is working in the best charter and public schools, in hopes of drawing the best practices from both and applying them across the district.
Among the most important discussions to take place between district and charter leaders will be that of equitable funding and facilities. Other conversations will center around everything from teacher effectiveness to better supporting students with special needs. Each district has a pact tailored to their needs.
The nine districts that are participating represent 2.1 million students, roughly 83,000 of which are in Baltimore. The city also has 30 charter schools, all of which have signed on to the compact, through the endorsement of the Coalition for Baltimore Charter Schools. Not all charter schools have signed on in other districts, officials said, for various reasons, including maintaining thier competitive edge.
City schools CEO Andres Alonso was on the call, saying that the pact is something that Baltimore would benefit greatly from, particularly as the district has moved toward letting the majority of its students choose what schools they want to attend. And, the majority of the city's charter schools sprouted during Alonso's three-year-tenure, and more are coming to the district next year.
“We have to change the way we do business to ensure the success of all schools,” Alonso said.
“It’s been huge for us to see this, not as something on paper, but as an evolving conversation about how we need to change.”
We'll be reviewing the city's compact, report back with more details.