Up tonight at the School Reform Commission strategy, policy and priority meeting: the Choice, Turnaround and Rightsizing Commitee (rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?) will receive an update on the Great Schools Compact.
The compact, of course, is a document signed late last year by the SRC, the city, and other key players. The compact signers pledge to transform 50,000 seats in low-performing schools with "high-quality" seats in the next five years. It's a commitment, signers say, to good schools in whatever form they might take - charter, district, etc. Philly has already gotten some money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to plan for this work, and it hopes to receive more.
With all the hubbub about the budget, the superintendent search, and decentralization, it's easy to lose sight of what this compact means. But make no mistake - it's significant.
A compact committee has been meeting since January; their meetings are not open to the public. (Minutes of the meetings can be found here.) Some worry that the compact working group is too charter-centric and fear this means that public schools will lose out. Some say it's high time that we stop looking at labels ("public" or "charter) and embrace what works. What do you think?
The committee's handout for tonight says: "The Great Schools Compact set a goal of turning 50,000 low performing seats in District and Charter schools into high performing seats. There a number of potential strategies that may be employed to accomplish this goal, including 1) Creation of in District turn-arounds (Promise Academies); 2) Renaissance Charters; 3) Replication/expansion of high performing District schools and programs; 4) Improving existing District and Charter schools through principal and teacher development 5) Expansion of high performing Charter schools; 6) Granting new Charters; 7) Closure of low performing District and/or Charter schools. No one of these strategies can accomplish the goal. Some are more costly than others. How do you think we should prioritize among them? What conditions determine which strategy should be applied to a given school? Are there other approaches that should be employed? What are your recommendations?”