When charter schools began more than 20 years ago, the objective was simple and well-meaning: Allow a limited number of schools, publicly funded, to work without some of the normal constraints of conventional public schools. They could vary schedules, use different teaching methods, engage in more out-of-classroom projects. And if their experiments worked, their “discoveries” could be moved into regular schools.
To offer 10 Wake County public schools that are struggling — these are high-poverty schools — the chance to operate as charters would be an effort to see if they could improve student performance. The schools want the chance. It’s called “restart” status.
It sounds like a good idea, even given the rocky road some charters have had as Republican lawmakers have allowed too-rapid expansion and some charter advocates have acted almost as if these were private schools, which they are not.
But these schools are in trouble, and the effort to move to a charter model is well-intentioned and with a clear purpose. And if the schools do improve, it’s a chance to use what’s learned for others that might be having signs of trouble themselves.