In 2020, many charter school opponents made broadsided attacks on charter schools based on well-worn tropes that have never been true or were true fifteen years ago and are no longer true. But all of the criticisms neglected to speak to the high support these schools receive from the majority of communities that these schools serve and serve well by all non-partisan and data-based research: Black and Brown families in urban areas. Moreover, the criticism did not address equity and the growing number of charter schools led by people of color, and the potential for new schools that can be created by institutional organizations within these communities. What does the charter school ecosystem look like in terms of advocacy, and who runs highly successful schools in the next 10 years? 

Today, as we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I want to share four goals that I think charter school supporters, advocates, and funders, should consider in 2021 to build a society where equality for all is a reality and no longer a dream.

  1. Invest in proven, single-site charter schools led by people of color so that they can grow their models and potentially replicate and expand to other areas of the nation trying to close the achievement gap 
  2. Ally the leaders of the most successful charter schools led by people of color with non-allied advocacy organizations for student mentorship support, school board membership, etc., locally and nationally.
  3. Encourage institutions within the Black, LatinX, Asian, and Native American communities to create charter schools within their communities, especially education provider organizations like historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and education supporting membership organizations such as members of the National PanHellenic Council, the Links, the Boule, etc.
  4. Create regional fellowships to share best practices with those looking to start charter schools that will empower leaders with the information needed to develop a school that will be successful. 

Ron Rice is the senior director of government relations at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Check out 9 New Year's Resolution Ideas for Educators in 2021 from the Program Committee for the 2021 National Charter Schools Conference.