School & District Management

Reports Explore Charter School Experiences in Indianapolis, N.Y.C.

By Caroline Hendrie — October 01, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Though they are both relative latecomers to the charter school movement, New York City and Indianapolis show how municipal leaders can use the independently run public schools to spur inno vation and broaden educational options in their communities.

“Seeds of Change in the Big Apple: Chartering Schools in New York City,” and “Fast Break in Indianapolis: A New Approach to Charter Schooling,” are available online from The Progressive Policy Institute. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

That’s the message of a pair of reports released last week by the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington think tank that is affiliated with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and is supportive of charter schools. In both places, the reports say, city leaders have championed charter schools, and their policies are yielding mixed but promising early results.

Nearly six years after New York state became the 36th state to allow charter schools, it has become home to 61 of the publicly financed but autonomous schools, 31 of them in New York City.

Last year, the head of the city’s mayorally controlled school system, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, unveiled a plan to start 50 new charter schools in five years while making the city the nation’s most “charter friendly.”

That effort is off to a slow start and faces tough challenges, including the task of reorienting the bureaucracy of the 1.1 million-student district to support autonomous schools, according to the report. Still, the city’s charter schools are accumulating a solid record of improving student achievement and are starting to exert pressure for changes in the district in areas such as labor negotiations and accountability, the report says.

“New York City’s record shows how urban school district leaders can take a sophisticated and thoughtful approach to a reform tool instead of responding defensively or antagonistically, as some have in other cities,” writes Robin J. Lake in “Seeds of Change: Chartering Schools in New York City.” Ms. Lake is the associate director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Indianapolis’ Unique Approach

Meanwhile, Mayor Bart Peterson of Indianapolis has used his status as the nation’s only mayor with the power to authorize charter schools to open 10 schools to date, with more in the works.

Since Indiana became the 38th state to allow charter schools in 2001, the mayor’s office has put in place “the groundwork for a high-quality initiative,” according to “Fast Break in Indianapolis: A New Approach to Charter Schooling.”

The approach, the report says, includes a push to recruit educators who want to copy successful charter models in the city; a program to train leaders to run the schools; a facilities-financing fund; a rigorous application process; and a comprehensive system of monitoring and reporting on schools’ results with students.

The report concludes that mayors bring unique advantages to authorizing and advocating charter schools, including skills in mobilizing resources, winning public confidence, and leveraging their knowledge of the community.

But chartering can make sizable demands on a mayor’s time and energy if it is to be done well, says the report, which was written by Bryan C. Hassel, the president of the Raleigh, N.C.-based consulting firm Public Impact. As the ppi notes in its preface to the report, Mr. Hassel has served as a consultant to the Indianapolis mayor’s office in developing its charter initiative.


School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management When Schools Want to Ban Cellphones—But Parents Stand in the Way
Educating parents on the real threats cellphones pose to their children can help allay their concerns about safety.
5 min read
A drowning hand reaching out of a cellphone for help
School & District Management Opinion I Invited My Students to Be the Principal for a Day. Here’s What I Learned
When I felt myself slipping into a springtime slump, this simple activity reminded me of my “why” as an educator.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
4 min read
052024 OPINION Khoshaba PRINCIPAL end the year with positivity
E+/Getty + Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management The Complicated Fight Over Four-Day School Weeks
Missouri lawmakers want to encourage large districts to maintain five-day weeks—even as four-day weeks grow more popular.
7 min read
Concept image of one hundred American dollar banknote and a fishing hook dragging across 4-day week calendar.
Liz Yap/Education Week and iStock/Getty/E+.
School & District Management From Our Research Center Principal Salaries: The Gap Between Expectation and Reality
Exclusive survey data indicate a gap between the expectations and the realities of principal pay.
4 min read
A Black woman is standing on a ladder and looking into the distance with binoculars, in the background is an ascending arrow.