In 2014, Andrew Kelly and I wrote Sector Switchers: Why Catholic Schools Convert to Charters and What Happens Next, an examination of 18 formerly Catholic schools that had “converted” (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves) into charter schools. With the recent news that the much-vaunted Jubilee Catholic schools in Memphis were looking to pursue the Catholic-to-charter path, I decided to revisit that paper. Where are those schools now? What do we know now that we didn’t know then?
Before I begin, I do want to reiterate a point made in that paper several years ago. We used—and I will use—the term “convert” because there simply isn’t a great term to describe what happened to these schools. Many of those who were affiliated with them as Catholic schools emphasize that when the Catholic school closed, it closed, and a new school opened in its place. We offered terms from the business world like “divesting” to describe what’s happening, but that didn’t necessarily do it justice either. For now, noting that it is a contentious term, we’ll talk about conversion.
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