From Promising to Proven: A Wise Giver's Guide to Expanding on the Success of Charter Schools

The Philanthropy Roundtable
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Twenty-five years ago, charter schools hadn’t even been dreamed up. Today they are mushrooming across the country. There are 6,500 charter schools operating in 42 states, with more than 600 new ones opening every year. Within a blink there will be 3 million American children attending these freshly invented institutions (and 5 million students in them by the end of this decade). 

It is philanthropy that has made all of this possible. Without generous donors, charter schools could never have rooted and multiplied in this way. And philanthropists have driven relentless annual improvements—better trained school founders, more prepared teachers, sharper curricula, smarter technology—that have allowed charter schools to churn out impressive results.

Studies show that student performance in charter schools is accelerating every year, as high-performing models replace weaker ones. Charter schools as a whole already exceed conventional schools in results. The top charters that are now growing so fast elevate student outcomes more than any other schools in the U.S.—especially among poor and minority children.

Charter schooling may be the most important social innovation of our age, and it is just beginning to boom. Philanthropists anxious to improve America have more opportunities to make a difference through charter schools than in almost any other way. This book provides the facts, examples, cautionaries, inspiration, research, and practical experience that philanthropists will need as charter schooling shifts gears from promising experiment to mainstream movement bringing improved opportunity to millions of students.
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Publisher
The Philanthropy Roundtable
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Published on
Mar 25, 2014
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Pages
274
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ISBN
9780989220248
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Language
English
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Genres
Reference / Handbooks & Manuals
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Includes 32 color photos taken by the author during the month he was embedded with the 82nd in Kuwait and Iraq.

This is a riveting account of the war in Iraq moving north with the 82nd Airborne. Units of the 82nd depart Kuwait and convoy to Iraq's Tallil Air Base en route to night-and-day battles within the major city of Samawah and its intact bridges across the Euphrates. Boots on the Ground quickly becomes an action-filled microcosm of the new kinds of ultramodern war fighting showcased in the overall battle for Iraq. At the same time it remains specific to the daily travails of the soldiers. Karl Zinsmeister, a frontline reporter who traveled with the 82nd, vividly conveys the careful planning and technical wizardry that go into today's warfare, even local firefights, and he brings to life the constant air-ground interactions that are the great innovation of modern precision combat.

What exactly does it feel like to travel with a spirited body of fighting men? To come under fire? To cope with the battlefield stresses of sleep-deprivation, and a steady diet of field rations for weeks on end? Readers of this day-to-day diary are left with not only a flashing sequence of strong mental images, but also a notion of the sounds and smells and physical sensations that make modern military action unforgettable.

Ultimately, Boots on the Ground is a human story: a moving portrayal of the powerful bonds of affection, trust, fear, and dedication that bind real soldiers involved in battle. There are unexpected elements: The humor that bubbles up amidst dangerous fighting. The pathos of a badly wounded young boy. The affection openly exhibited by many American soldiers--love of country, love of family and hometown, love of each other. This is a true-life tale of superbly trained men in extraordinary circumstances, packed with concrete detail, often surpassing fiction for sheer drama.

 Over the last generation, Catholic schools have been buffeted by a confluence of winds:  changing demographics in the urban neighborhoods where many of their facilities are located, the disappearance of nuns and priests from classrooms, new competition from tuition-free charter schools. Finances crumbled, enrollments fell, and 6,000 schools were closed. 

Yet two million children remain in Catholic schools today. This includes a great many low-income and minority youngsters for whom Catholic schooling is a lifeline in an otherwise dysfunctional neighborhood. And Catholic schools get enormous bang for their educational buck—posting graduation rates, college success patterns, and levels of constructive student behavior that much exceed the performance at counterpart public institutions.

Donors never gave up on Catholic schools. And in recent years they have begun to be rewarded for their loyalty. The last decade has brought a burst of fresh management structures, teacher pipelines, back-office mechanisms, helpful technologies, support groups, education-reform allies, private investors, and state and local school-choice programs that leave Catholic schools in their best position for future success in more than 50 years.            

It is now possible to see the outlines of a significant Catholic-school renaissance. And it is donors who are leading the way. This practical guide describes hundreds of opportunities for savvy givers to put a stamp on this field—where there may be more opportunities for life-changing philanthropy than in any other corner of our nation.

Donating money to modify public thinking and government policy has now taken its place next to service-centered giving as a constructive branch of philanthropy. Many donors now view public-policy reform as a necessary adjunct to their efforts to improve lives directly.

This is perhaps inevitable given the mushrooming presence of government in our lives. In 1930, just 12 percent of U.S. GDP was consumed by government; by 2012 that had tripled to 36 percent. Unless and until that expansion of the state reverses, it is unrealistic to expect the philanthropic sector to stop trying to have a say in public policies.

Sometimes it’s not enough to build a house of worship; one must create policies that make it possible for people to practice their faith freely within society. Sometimes it’s not enough to pay for a scholarship; one must change laws so that high-quality schools exist for scholarship recipients to take advantage of.

Yet public-policy philanthropy has special ways of mystifying and frustrating practitioners. It requires understanding of governmental practice, interpretation of human nature, and some philosophical perspective. Public-policy philanthropists may encounter opponents operating from different principles who view them as outright enemies. Moreover, public-policy struggles never seem to end: victories one year become defeats the next, followed by comebacks, then setbacks, and on and on.

This book was written to help donors navigate all of those obstacles. It draws on deep history, and rich interviews with the very best practitioners of ­­public-policy philanthropy in America today. Whatever your aspirations for U.S. society and governance, this guide will help you find the best ways to make a difference. 

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