Speaking of charters: A handful of charter schools around the country are bucking the dominant model (focused on low-income minority kids and mastering basic skills) and trying to create a "new" charter model that balances learning and accountability and socioeconomic diversity. This new kind of charter -- a re-imagining of the diverse neighborhood school -- is popular with parents and teachers, growing in numbers (albeit still very small), and as this new article of mine in Education Next points out, they're also challenging to pull off.
How do you get the parents to get to know each other, for example, or deal with such a wide range of kids in each classroom -- wider in some ways than most community-based schools, given residential segregation?
I don't think there are any examples yet in Chicago, though I know that Namaste attracts some white families and some of the UofC charter elementaries attract lots of middle- and upper-middle-class black families. Maybe that will change sometime soon?
They're also a way to try and get away from the narrow reform model and come up with something that has a broader appeal and brings charters back towards neighborhood and community.
And -- this is probably the most interesting -- some progressive educators have found that they provide the autonomy and kid- and teacher-centeredness that district and traditional charters often lack.