CharterFolk Year in Review 2022 – Greetings from Pondicherry

Happy Holidays, CharterFolk.

I file this year’s review from India.

With the family
at Meenakshi Temple in Madurai

25 years ago tonight, some of our very closest friends were married in Delhi and asked if Amy and I would attend. It turned out to be one of the most magical experiences of our lives. A quarter century later we are back celebrating their anniversary …

With Rita and Raj Sharma and Amy
at the Thirumalai Nayak Palace

… this time with our kids in tow …

Anniversary night in Pondicherry

… and the experience is turning out to be every bit as magical.

Christmas Eve in Munnar

Over the past twenty-five years, much has changed. But much has remained the same, as well.

Like the obsession I maintain over all things education. In 1997, it led me to seek out an elementary school in Rajasthan.

In 2022, it led me to seek out Gandhi’s views on education at his museum in Madurai.

By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man body, mind and spirit.

Mahatma Gandhi

As ever, perspective proves illuminating.

In India, now becoming the world’s most populous nation, the imperatives of equity and excellence in education are plain to see.

How does the nation balance the need to grow the excellence of education it currently offers to the relatively few who are playing a huge role in the development of India’s economy writ large …

… with the need to provide more equitable public education to all, when literally tens of millions of students still attend schools …

…that have no drinkable water?

Grateful for having had occasion to connect again at even deeper levels with vexing problems, with old friends, and with even older wisdom …

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Mahatma Gandhi

… and grateful, of course, to all of you as well, I file this year’s review.

CharterFolk Year in Review 2022

2022 has been a year of encouraging progress for us here at CharterFolk.  We started the year with about 1300 readers.  We end the year with about 7500, and we are on a trajectory for having 10,000 early in the new year.  We consider that not bad progress given that we started out with 600 in June of 2020.  Open rates continue to average around 45%, which industry benchmarks indicate is a very high rate.  We are generating about $50,000 in revenues from individual and organizational subscriptions, and we match those revenues with philanthropic contributions.  It provides enough resources to pay for our subscriptions to 20+ national publications, for our various IT capacities, and for our small band of consultants who work below market to keep CharterFolk coming your way.  As ever, I take no compensation for my contribution to CharterFolk, seeing this as my service project to the movement. It leaves enough funding available to help needed things happen in charter school advocacy, like catalyzing the establishment of a charter school association in Puerto Rico, which we did this spring.  

For 2023, I’d like CharterFolk to do even more.  My thought is that it is within our capacity in 2023 to become an enterprise serving at least 25,000 readers and spinning off six figures to catalyze the development of even stronger advocacy efforts for the movement.  I consider it an extension of our 25X25X25 goal we articulated in our first year.  This will be a topic our Board of Directors will look at during our next meeting in January. 

In recent months, you may have noticed that we have been bringing down our firewall so that anyone wanting to access past posts is able to do so without cost or encumbrance.   It’s an economic model we consider more mission-aligned.  It’s also one patterned after some of the online communities I admire most where individual readers, organizations and donors pay what they can without the community becoming excessively dependent on any one subset of supporters.  In that way, our base of support remains as broad as possible while we keep our eyes set on long-term financial sustainability.

Anyone wanting to contribute can help by providing a paid subscription.  People interested in organizational subscriptions may reach Kerry Flanagan at  Those interested in joining our group of donors providing philanthropic matches may reach me at  We greatly appreciate any and all assistance you might be able to provide.

During 2021 we shared a total of 116 posts here at CharterFolk.  29 of them were Contributor Columns or interviews.  I wrote 87 posts myself.  That is down somewhat from last year, but this year’s posts tended to be somewhat longer, so I consider the overall amount of content generated this year to be about consistent with prior years.

Below you can find some highlights from the year.  On our website, you can find Year End Reviews for 2020 and 2021.


I start this year thanking and celebrating the many contributors whose voices exemplified what CharterFolk and indeed our entire movement is all about. Whether it was …

I thank all our contributors for having advanced the discussion here at CharterFolk and across our entire movement, and I invite any and all from the CharterFolk community to offer your own thoughts next year.


This year, several topics became recurring ones. Some of the themes that drew the most focus were as follows.

The Rough Beast Slouching Toward Large Urban School Districts

This year we focused a great deal on the range of forces coming together to put immense pressure on urban school districts to change.

The Sad Response of Many Large Urban School Districts to Become Even Less Equitable as Pressure Builds

One of the saddest things happening in public education today is that, rather than the Establishment seeing Covid challenges, racial reckoning, charter school growth, and enrollment loss as forces requiring them to become fundamentally more excellent and equitable, many school districts are adopting policies that will lead them in exactly the opposite direction. 

Passionate Intensity at a Federal Level – The Administration’s Attack on Charter Schools

Of course, as many CharterFolk readers will remember, we put a lot of effort into helping contest the potentially disastrous new CSP regulations that were proposed by the Biden Administration this spring. Posts included:

Charter School Momentum Despite It All

Despite the unfair attacks and other challenges that we face, 2022 was also a year of great momentum and progress for the charter school movement. It was a theme we returned to again and again here at CharterFolk.

A Unique Bi-Partisan Space

Another recurring theme at CharterFolk this year was the challenge of maintaining our long-term balance of support from both sides of the aisle. Posts on this topic included.


CharterFolk readers were no doubt unsurprised that broken-recording about the need to build improved advocacy and political infrastructure for the charter school movement remained an obsession of mine in 2022.


Finally, 2022 was a year where I continued to advocate for an updated vision for the broader charter school movement. Posts focusing on this topic included:

It’s been an extraordinary year, CharterFolk. Thanks to all for being along for the ride in 2022.

I look forward to even more magic in 2023.