Moving beyond the debate over whether or not charter schools should exist, A Smarter Charter wrestles with the question of what kind of charter schools we should encourage. The authors begin by tracing the evolution of charter schools from teacher union leader Albert Shanker’s original vision of giving teachers room to innovate while educating a diverse population of students, to today’s charter schools where the majority of teachers are not unionized and student segregation levels are even higher than in traditional public schools. In the second half of the book, the authors examine two key reforms currently seen in a small but growing number of charter schools—teacher voice and socioeconomic integration—that have the potential to improve performance and reshape the stereotypical image of what it means to be a charter school.


Richard Kahlenberg & Halley Potter, authors A Smarter Charter


Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker Institute


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“A Smarter Charter is a tour-de-force, laying out in singular fashion what has gone wrong with the charter school movement, and what must be done to get it back on track. Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter show how most charter schools have departed from Al Shanker’s original conception of charters as public schools that educate all students and honor teacher voice to become autocratic institutions that are racially and economically segregated. A small number of charter schools have remained true to Shanker’s vision, and they show how the promise of charter schools can be reclaimed. A Smarter Charter is a must read for those concerned with the future of charter schools and public education.”

– Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker Institute

“Our schools are becoming more and more segregated, while teachers have less and less voice. A Smarter Charter proves that we must change this, and just as importantly, shows us how we can. One warning: reading this book might inspire you to quit your job and start an integrated school that empowers its teachers!”

– James Forman, Jr., Clinical Professor of Law, Yale Law School