Michelle Rhee sent around this email...
Here's the question that I posed:
Dennis Littky said the following in an interview on National Public Radio in April 2005: "The commissioner of education (in Rhode Island) Peter McWalter said to me, "I could have closed this school down the first year, but I had the patience to watch and I've never seen people who had the belief in the maturity of the kid" -- so half of our great work is because the [kids] grew up. In most schools, they don't get to [grow up] -- they get stopped before [they can prove themselves]."
In the Littky success story, part of the credit for success goes to Peter McWalters for giving Littky's staff the time to meet goals and to create a school with different procedures.
You can get the full radio interview at npr.org and search "Dennis Littky Small school"
Littky's school is a charter and from what I've seen in Florida, charters are generally inspected by the school district. To pass inspection, many charter schools adopt the same curriculum and general rules and penalties for discipline that traditional schools use. (In Broward County, where I work, this means a 30-page code of behavior that the students have to agree to follow - who reads all that?)...
What do you recommend? Should we teachers and parents go to the legislature and get the charter schools permission to try a different curriculum and discipline structure? Under the current scheme, most charters eventually look a lot like the public schools that the kids couldn't perform well in... so why should we be surprised when many kids fail to get engaged in our charter schools?
Bottom line: would removing school district oversight help charter schools find "a different way" to differentiate lessons and personalize the instruction, allowing more project-based learning?