EdWeek: Gates Foundation Grants Aim to Foster District-Charter Cooperation


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Wednesday that it is awarding $100,000 each to schools in five cities to promote collaboration between charter schools and traditional public school districts, part of a program that has channeled $25 million in awards to such 
efforts to date.

The grants for “district-charter collaboration compacts” will go to school officials in Aldine, Texas; Lawrence, Mass.; San Jose, Calif.; Spokane, Wash.; and Tulsa, Okla.

Since 2010, schools in about 20 cities have been awarded compact grants, according to the philanthropy. The Gates foundation has promoted the compacts as a way for those independent schools and regular public school systems to work cooperatively and avoid the friction that has frequently engulfed the two sectors in states and communities.

To that end, a number of the compacts receiving grants said the money will support attempts to create “universal enrollment” systems that establish consistent, transparent, and fair standards for parents trying to get their children in either charters or traditional schools.

Charters have faced increasing criticism from those who say some set de-facto standards for admission and in disciplinary policy, resulting in some schools accepting students with stronger academic backgrounds and fewer behavioral problems than do traditional public schools.

In a conference call with reporters, officials from some of the winning school systems said they also hoped to use the money to support co-location of facilities, or the sharing of space among districts and charters, which often tussle for space.

The grants will also help the districts and charters develop joint programs in professional development and personalized learning, and come up with common measurement to evaluate schools, Gates officials said. (Education Week receives funding from the Gates foundation, which supports the newspaper’s coverage of the education industry and K-12 innovation.The newspaper retains sole editorial control over coverage.)

Spokane schools superintendent Shelley Redinger, whose district recently approved its first charter school, said the grant will support cooperation on professional development and the creation of a common enrollment system between the two sectors. (Washington voters in 2012 passed astatewide measure allowing for the creation of charters in the state.)

But she also said the money will help her come up with a clear policy for who gets into charters and other public schools in the eastern Washington district.

The goal is to reduce any “mystery” in the the enrollment process and ensure that the two systems work together to serve “economically disadvantaged populations,” Redinger said. 

The objectives are different in the Lawrence, Mass., school system, which had been placed in receivership by the state after years of academic struggles. Jeffrey Riley, the state-appointed receiver and superintendent of the school system, said the money would help the system and its charters support the aggressive recruitment of highly skilled teachers, who are coveted by districts across Massachusetts.

The plan is to “really go after the best talent in the Boston area,” Riley said.

 (Jan 29, 2014: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/marketplacek12/2014/01/gates_grants_for_district-charter_cooperation_to_focus_on_facilites_enrollment_other_practices.html)

Recent Updates

Filter by topic

Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, one of our country’s greatest advocates for education and civil rights.

We are proud to see his legacy alive in charter public school students and classrooms across the state.

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Martin Luther King Jr.
... See MoreSee Less

Congrats to Impact Public Schools on a great event with founding families and students! ... See MoreSee Less

Only one day left until 2018! This is your last chance to give your year-end, tax-deductible gift to the Washington State Charter Schools Association and give a life-changing gift of education. wacharters.org/give/ ... See MoreSee Less

SHARE: Read our new blog post to learn how from starting the school to welcoming students every morning, Rainier Prep Public Charter School is building a school culture focused on community and student engagement. wacharters.org/every-day-rainier-prep-ritual-community-engagement/ ... See MoreSee Less

We are currently accepting applications for our School Leadership and Design Fellowship that supports diverse leaders realize their goal of opening a charter public school in Washington state.

Learn more on this webinar about how we can help you open a high-quality public school in Washington goo.gl/zUkard
... See MoreSee Less

Meet Kai. He’s getting a great education at a charter public school.

"I'm in 2nd grade at Spokane International Academy. I love my school because of my science club and all the fun things we learn and do there. At SIA we have Spanish starting in kindergarten. My teachers are very nice and help me learn."

With your support, we can help more schools like Kai's open, and more students like Kai get a world-class education. A gift of any size is meaningful and will make a difference for children in Washington state. wacharters.org/give/
... See MoreSee Less

For thousands of children in Washington State, a high-quality education is out of reach. Washington is home to startling - and increasing - educational inequities for children from low-income communities, children with special needs, and children of color.

We can change this by providing our children with high-quality charter public school options that show what's possible when innovation meets accountability.

Challenge inequity and support innovation by giving to WA Charters this #GivingTuesday. wacharters.org/give/
... See MoreSee Less