This working paper considers how two existing policy tools–investment tax credits and charter schools–could be combined to raise operating funds for charter schools that successfully close the poverty-related academic achievement gap. Some charter schools have succeeded in dramatically improving low-income student performance (those run by KIPP, Achievement First, and the Harlem Children’s Zone, for example). However, these successful schools differ significantly in type and approach. As a result, it is difficult to identify a single, or combination of variables in any one charter that, if replicated, would produce the same results across the public school system. This working paper acknowledges the difficulty of so-called “silver bullet” school reform replication and considers an alternative: cultivating a diverse array of education approaches using tools developed by the community development finance industry over the last 30 years.
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