Charter schools are approaching the ripe old age of 20. Although more work remains if we are to fully understand this complex education reform “movement,” a growing body of data and research is being compiled about its strengths, weaknesses, and impact. An important subset of the charter school sector is just now receiving a similar level of scrutiny. Charter management organizations (CMOs) are integrated networks of charter schools that came on the scene around the turn of the century, a little less than 10 years after the first charter school opened its doors. According to a recent study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, by 2008 CMOs accounted for more than 10 percent of the charter school market and had been the beneficiaries of at least $500 million in private philanthropy. At this scale, CMOs warrant a close look to improve our understanding of what they are, how they operate and perform, and whether they offer an adequate return on public and private investment.
[Read the full article at Education Next]