The first state charter school law was passed in Minnesota in 1991. The idea that teachers, parents, and other community members could launch these independent public schools of choice proceeded to spread rapidly across the country. Within two decades, many charter schools had long waiting lists and parents willing to march on their behalf. By 2017, more than 6,900 charter schools were operating in 44 states plus DC, serving 3.2 million children. In spite of the controversy that often swirls around them, charter schools have dropped strong roots into the field of education.
HIT THE DRUM is a page-turning narrative that gives an insider's perspective to explain how this transformation happened. It tells the engaging stories of several dozen unsung heroes and heroines—many of them classroom teachers—who decided to change their lives in order to join this grassroots movement which has dramatically altered the landscape of public education in America. If you are interested in education reform or how social movements grow and spread—or if you want to understand more about why we have the kinds of schools we do and how schools might look in the future—this book is a must-read.
PRAISE FOR HIT THE DRUM:
“Sarah Tantillo, a teacher and early force for school reform in New Jersey, has written a groundbreaking narrative on the birth and blossoming of the charter school movement, particularly the most successful part of it. She introduces us to many unsung heroes and heroines all over the country, most of them teachers, who decided public schools independent of bureaucratic school districts could do a much better job raising the achievement of impoverished children. If you have time for only one book on charter schools, this is it.”--JAY MATHEWS, Washington Post education columnist
“HIT THE DRUM is a page-turning account that connects many dots and tells previously untold stories: a must-read for anyone interested in education reform.”—PEG TYRE, best-selling author and award-winning journalist, helps operate the EGF Accelerator, a residential incubator for education-related nonprofits.
“Sarah Tantillo has penned a timely and highly readable account of charter schooling. She explains how charters came about, why charter schooling is important, and what it’ll take for charter schools to do more for America’s students.” --FREDERICK M. HESS, Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
“Sarah Tantillo weaves a fascinating history from 1983’s ‘A Nation at Risk’ to today’s fertile petri-dish of the promised and delivered-on innovation provided by charters and other education options. Full of insider tidbits and knowledge (much of which I can attest to!) that give flesh and bones to the ed reform story, it gives hope to all those aspiring to expand education opportunity.”--JEANNE ALLEN, Founder & CEO, The Center for Education Reform
“Tantillo’s insider account captures the heart and soul of the charter schools movement and serves as a compelling reminder that chartering is really a strategy for empowering people to make a difference.”--DR. JAMES N. GOENNER, President & CEO, National Charter Schools Institute
“A quarter-century after the first charter schools opened in America, some still see them as an enigma. HIT THE DRUM dives into the people, stories, and philosophies behind the most significant school improvement effort of our lifetimes and sheds light on why this movement is still making waves all these years later.”--GREG RICHMOND, President & CEO, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
“A great resource for people who believe schools can make a huge positive difference. Tantillo shows how committed, caring, and creative educators and community members throughout the country created the chartered public school movement.”--JOE NATHAN, former public school teacher, administrator, PTA president, and director, Center for School Change
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION PART I: FIRST STEPS Chapter 1: Seeing What's Possible: Day One at North Star Academy Chapter 2: A Nation at Risk and Time for Results Chapter 3: Where Did the Idea of Chartering Come From? Chapter 4: Preparing the Field and Planting the Seeds Chapter 5: California and Michigan and the Early Challenges Chapter 6: "All Choice Is Good and More Choice Is Better": Two Warriors Chapter 7: The Pioneer Chapter 8: "Who's Going to Help People Start These Things?" Chapter 9: "We Had Nothing to Lose" Chapter 10: From Small Schools to Charter Schools in Chicago Chapter 11: How to Make the Most of a Crisis: The DC Story Chapter 12: A Pot of Meatballs Among Friends Chapter 13: Herding Cats, Part I
PART II: SCALING UP: QUANTITY VS. QUALITY Chapter 14: Explaining This New Thing Chapter 15: Why Aren't All Charter Schools Great? Chapter 16: "Weeding Is Hard Work" Chapter 17: The Superintendent and the Entrepreneur Chapter 18: A Couple of Rookies Chapter 19: KIPP and YES Prep Chapter 20: The Disgruntled Graduate Student Chapter 21: Building the Uncommon Team Chapter 22: "From Margins to Mainstream" Chapter 23: "How Many Schools Can You Open?" Chapter 24: Herding Cats, Part II, and the Double-edged Sword of Philanthropy Chapter 25: The Katrina Effect Chapter 26: "Don't Steal Possible"
PART III: ROOTS TAKING HOLD Chapter 27: The Promise of "R & D" Labs vs. The Reality Chapter 28: Using Data Differently Chapter 29: Changing How Teachers and Leaders Are Prepared, Part I Chapter 30: Changing How Teachers and Leaders Are Prepared, Part II
CONCLUSION: Why Charters Have Not Faded
NOTE ON METHODOLOGY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR