The Act’s two pronged challenge means that the Commonwealth grows the strongest charters to serve where needs are greatest, while urging mainstream educators to embrace the autonomies that will enable them to better meet the needs of their particular students. In this fashion, mainstream schools can no longer justifiably complain about charter competition if they are unwilling to embrace the innovation school autonomies which are comparable to those enjoyed by charter schools. At the same time, charter providers are clearly enlisted in meeting the state’s greatest needs and held accountable for doing so. As a result of these policies, students and families get more choice and innovation both inside the mainstream system and out.
Since the Achievement Gap Act strategy has shown early success, Beacon Hill leaders should accelerate its progress by increasing the targeted cap lift while making an investment in a new cadre of innovation schools.
Paul Reville is a professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is the former secretary of education and coauthor of the Achievement Gap Act of 2010.