7 Districts Split $25M in Gates Education Grants

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Chris Gibbons, the CEO of Strive Prep Charter Network in Denver, said the compacts are formal recognitions “that resources of the public sector are available to all students … (and that) the responsibility to educate all students well is the shared responsibility of an entire city.”

In Philadelphia, the compact includes collaboration with private and Catholic schools. Lori Shorr, the city’s chief education officer, said Philadelphia needs all types of high-achieving schools to reduce poverty, enhance public safety and attract economic development.

She also acknowledged that managing charter growth has been a contentious issue in the financially struggling district, where about 30 percent of the 207,000 students attend charters.

Shorr said some tension stems from “early animosities” about charters that have hardened and led to misunderstandings and misperceptions. The important thing, she said, is to “put adult foolishness aside” and focus on what’s best for students.

Spring Branch, a district that includes part of Houston and its suburbs, is slated to receive nearly $2.2 million. Superintendent Duncan Klussmann said a new partnership with two charter school operators is designed to spur innovation and a cultural change in the district, which is striving to double the number of students who obtain a degree or certificate in higher education.

“To do that, we have to have strong partnerships and collaboration,” Klussmann said.

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