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Submitted by Alex Medler on

Very interesting project. I look forward to hearing more about the results. Here in the states, our charter school sector seems an interesting analogy. Our charter laws are 20 years old, and we are slowly figuring out how to apply new forms of public oversight for non-traditional providers of public services. Some of that might be relevant in your work; and I’m sure we could learn a lot from this study as well.

The field here has been evolving constantly and it benefits from the distinct approaches in each of the U.S. states. Amidst the variation and experimentation, however, we see common approaches emerging. For example, there are growing networks of operators, like KIPP or Aspire, that can replicate high-performing schools for low-income children with surprising regularity. And many local school systems are competing to make their districts attractive to these operators. It is similar to the way cities compete to get a company to locate their headquarters in their downtown by offering tax breaks. Here, willing districts offer a building to a strong operator. I am curious about all the international analogs that must be out there and how governments and people respond to them.

Meanwhile, the groups that authorize charter schools are getting better at distinguishing between good and bad schools, and acting accordingly to influence the overall quality of these sectors. These authorizers are also charged with protecting students’ rights, as our civil rights protections remain in place in these hybrid schools. Since the usual systems for protecting students rights, like our special education programs for student with disabilities, are designed and regulated through school districts, this gets very complicated.

The lessons of our charter school movement are perhaps more applicable to non-state actors that willingly enter into a regulatory structure that provides significant benefits (like public funding and a designation as a "form of public school" rather than a designation as a private school). For governments trying to regulate providers that they are not so deeply engaged in the public funding stream, I am curious what similarities in oversight could work.

Thanks for the update,

Alex Medler