Pilot Schools

"In-District Charter Schools"

  1. Creating the Pilot Schools
  2. Research on Pilot Schools
  3. Autonomies Checklist for New Small Schools and Small Learning Communities

Smarter Charters? Creating Boston's Pilot Schools
Can charter school initiatives spur reform in the public school system through new schools that are models of innovation and that somehow both pressure and inform the existing system?

The nation’s more than 1000 charter schools are almost entirely products of state legislation that bypass what Ted Kolderie of the Minnesota-based Center for Policy Studies calls the "exclusive franchise" of local school boards. The result is that most charter schools, while interesting, are often marginal to local school districts and local reform efforts, are seen as "hostiles", and in nearly all cases receive no material or moral support from the local districts where they reside.

Could not an alternative scenario have emerged, where local districts, determined to promote educational innovation, would charter local groups of parents and educators to start new schools or to transform existing ones outside the framework of local rules and regulations?

Boston's "in-district charter schools", called "pilot schools", shows that charters can be realized through district and teacher union sponsorship. There are now eleven operating pilot schools in Boston. Combined with four state-sponsored charters in the city, Boston has the highest concentration of charter schools of any locality in the country.

How do these "in-district charters" stack up against their state-sponsored brethren? Are pilot schools smarter charters than state-sponsored charters? In this chapter, Smarter Charters? Creating Boston's Pilot Schools, Bob Pearlman, former President of the Autodesk Foundation, and former Coordinator of Educational Reform Initiatives for the Boston Teachers Union, chronicles the successes, challenges and limitations of the "in-district charters" and the lessons for district and state policymakers.

"Smarter Charters? Creating Boston's Pilot Schools", is reprinted by permission of the publisher from Clinchy, E., "CREATING NEW SCHOOLS: HOW SMALL SCHOOLS ARE CHANGING AMERICAN EDUCATION", (New York: Teachers College Press, copyright 2000 by Teachers College, Columbia University. All rights reserved.), pp. 38-48.

In this timely new volume, acclaimed educational scholars and experts explore the major reform issues currently facing American educational institutions. Particular attention is given to the challenges faced by new, smaller, and more independent schools. Contributors include: Linda Nathan, Larry Myatt, Robert Pearlman, Dan French, Meredith Gavrin, Ellalinda Rustique-Forrester, Ann Cook, Beth J. Lief, Judith Rizzo, David Sherman, Linda Darling-Hammond, Jacqueline Ancess, Kemly McGregor, David Zuckerman, Deborah Meier, Seymour Sarason, and Evans Clinchy.

To order Creating New Schools: How Small Schools Are Changing American Education edited by Evans Clinchy ($23.95), please contact Teachers College Press at 1-800-5756566 (Toll Free) or e-mail orders to: tcp.orders@aidcvt.com

Research on Pilot Schools

Reports note success of pilot schools By Anand Vaishnav, Globe Staff, 10/24/2001

Reports on Pilot Schools from the Center for Collaborative Education