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Charter School Conversation

Compassion and kindness

Time to Change the Conversation About Charter Schools

Why you should care

Because if we don’t fix education in America, we’re all in trouble. 

While it’s not immediately obvious, this week’s midterm elections had a lot to do with education. Sure, Colorado’s ambitious $1 billion education initiative was bluntly rejected, stunning some supporters. Less obvious is the impact of New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio. He’s a liberal, so he should be progressive about education, right?

Children lined up in uniforms against a blue wall ready to go to school! Kindergartners smile on their first day of school at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology in the Lower 9th Ward August 20, 2007 in New Orleans, Louisi

Source: Mario Tama/Getty

Kindergartners smile on their first day of school at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology in New Orleans, in 2007.

Not so fast. It’s unclear where de Blasio will ultimately land on proven reforms such as high-performing charter schools, which blossomed in New York under Michael Bloomberg.* Among the changes he’s considering, according to the Washington Post: making charter schools pay rent to the city. He’s also talking about rolling back merit pay. Why does this matter? Because what happens in the Big Apple, home to the country’s largest school system, will likely have a big impact everywhere.

With education reform at an important fork in the road, I talked to Laurene Powell Jobs, a longtime education advocate who is founder and chair of the Emerson Collective; co-founder of College Track, a college completion program; and an investor in OZY. What’s the fundamental road ahead for education in the final Obama years? According to Powell Jobs, it’s time for a shift, and it starts with how we talk when we talk about education.

* This story was updated to clarify de Blasio’s stance on education reform.

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