Bill Gates on charter schools

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and school-reform advocate, called for more charter schools, and for the tighter use of standards to close ones that aren’t performing up to expectations. From an EdWeek blog:

“The fact is the majority of children in the country are attending schools that don’t work for them. So it’s imperative that we take the risk to make change,” Gates said to the audience at the National Charter Schools Conference in Chicago. “Not just small change at the margin, but dramatic changes that are centered around the student. I believe the seeds of that new approach are being sown at those [high-performing charter] schools.”

He called for the elimination of state caps on charter schools, more equitable public funding for charters and better partnerships with school districts. The foundation this fall will announce a series of compacts between charters and district partners, he said.

Gates challenged charter school authorizers and managers to make sure charters are high-performing and to close those that don’t meet the bar after giving them a chance to improve.

How many students actually attend  schools that “don’t work for them” is an empirical question, but Gates is right otherwise. Charter schools, if freed from some of the constraints that typically tie traditional schools, can seek out ways of operating that work for the diversity of students that we have.

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