CharterFolk Chat #2 – Howard Fuller Being Clear about the Purpose of Charter Schools

Hello CharterFolk,

Today’s a fun morning, one where I get to release our CharterFolk Chat with Howard Fuller.

I’ll let my introduction on the tape suffice for my intro here:

CharterFolk is designed for people who know a lot about charter schools and are passionate about them to begin with, and anybody that knows about charter schools and is passionate about charter schools knows a lot about Howard Fuller.  One way that I would introduce you is if we were to create a pantheon of CharterFolk and chisel the visages into a mountain where we would have just scores and scores of faces in the rock, the one at the front would be Howard Fuller. And the reason for that is because you have been doing this work for so incredibly long, and you’ve been doing it so effectively. But perhaps more important than anything else, you have been doing it with a moral authority and credibility that has just filled tens of thousands of CharterFolk with greater inspiration to forge on. It’s my honor to have you here.

And for all of you who know Howard well, you know he never minces words, and he certainly doesn’t here with us. I hope all of you find time to watch the whole interview. But for those of you who may want to jump directly to particular topics, I offer a few suggestions below:

  • The 3:14 mark where Howard talks about how many of us think about our work in education as a rescue mission while others stay focused on the need for systemic reform.
  • The 6:10 mark where Howard addresses whether the broader societal focus on systemic racism in other realms will ultimately translate into a focus on those problems in education. It’s a moment where we hear again a quintessential Fuller statement: “I don’t think anything automatically translates into anything. If you’re going to make change, you got to make change.”
  • At the 9:00 point, Howard encourages us not to equate any particular delivery model with public education, but to think about how our focus on different kinds of schools results in profound change for all. “One of the things we always have to be clear about is what is the purpose of charter schools.”
  • At the 17:20 point, Howard reminds us that we have to “bring that broader framework [for change] and turn it into actionable things.”
  • At the 20:20 mark after I asked Howard about the importance of conversion charter schools, he offered: “One of the things I learned from Ted Kolderie and I’m sure Joe [Nathan] to a certain extent is that the innovation is not charter schools. The innovation is chartering.”
  • At 21:50, Howard starts pushing for much more transformational change of education than many are even beginning to think about. And he worries about how our limited thinking may prevent us from being able to seize an opportunity to redesign education altogether.
  • At the 30:50 point, Howard identifies a key moment contributing to our movement’s problems in diversity, equity and inclusion, and he pushes us to change as all great movements must if they are to prove successful in the end.
  • At 44:45, Howard shares thoughts about advocacy strategy as it relates to the importance of small agile advocacy organizations as well as larger ones that might be able amass resources and leverage other collective strengths of the movement.
  • Finally, around the 49:00 mark, Howard advises that we not try to calibrate our efforts around any level of aggressiveness but to stay anchored to what our kids and families need and what the historical moment requires, which then leads to Howard sharing his thoughts about the presidential election.

I hope you guys enjoy watching the interview a fraction as much as I enjoyed being a part of it. Special thanks to Howard once again.