This from Education Week by Mary Ann Zehr:
Seeking to promote closer ties between charter schools and other public schools, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Tuesday that it is providing grants to enable charter schools and traditional school districts in nine cities to share best practices and solve problems together.

The nine collaborations are set to receive $100,000 each to carry out signed agreements, and they will compete to be among three selected for significantly larger grants from the foundation. The foundation did not specify dollar amounts for the larger grants.

“It’s new that we have funded districts and charters to come together in this way,” Vicki L. Phillips, the director of K-12 education initiatives for the Seattle-based foundation, said in a telephone interview. “For a long time, there have been tensions between districts and charters over an array of things, from facilities to recruitment and retention of staff. This [effort] is designed to say, ‘We want the highest-performing charters to be successful and the highest-performing districts to be successful.’ ”

The cities participating in the implementation of the first round of compacts are Baltimore; Denver; Hartford, Conn.; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; and Rochester, N.Y. The charter operators who have signed on to the agreements in some of the participating cities include leaders of Aspire Public Schools, based in Oakland, Calif., and the San Francisco-based Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP.

Ms. Phillips said that the Gates Foundation aims with the new funding effort to support charter schools and other kinds of public schools to move beyond what she calls the “false debate” of “effective charters versus effective districts” and share lessons learned for improving student achievement. She said the foundation intends to support the sharing of best practices more broadly nationwide than has happened so far.

In most cases, the dollars will flow neither to the school district nor to the charter operators but rather to a third party to support the collaborative work of the two sectors, according to foundation staff. (The Gates Foundation also helps support Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit publisher of Education Week.)

Ms. Phillips said that in April, the foundation will roll out another round of grants to a still-to-be-determined number of cities where charter school and school district leaders have signed agreements to work together.

read more>>