In order to find out about this in depth, I read what many consider to be the first major mentions of the idea of charter schools: Roy Budde's narrative of the "Education by Charter" idea and the following speech by then-president of the American Federation of Teachers, Al Shanker. Both discussed the idea that charter schools should have fewer restrictions placed on them, more control over curriculum-decisions, increased autonomy in budgetary decisions, and more. But the main difference between what was proposed then and what is happening now is who was running them and to what end.
Their explanations of charter schools revolve around teams of teacher leaders who take charge and craft proposals of schools-within-schools, to be run for 5-10 years, with their outcomes and positive changes to be brought back to the traditional school district. Budde proposes a 10 year cycle whereby "new blood" can make a significant difference quickly without waiting on the bureaucracy that inevitably exists in large school districts. Al Shanker's speech builds support for this idea as well.
It is a sad day, then, when I see almost the exact opposite of that taking place across the country, especially in Philadelphia. Instead of working to support their efforts, the School District of Philadelphia denied the teachers and parents at Creighton Elementary a chance to shape their futures. I experienced something similar when I worked at West Philadelphia High School three years ago.
Instead of creating an adversarial relationship with teachers and their unions, the School District of Philadelphia should look at the true origins of the charter school movement and bring teachers into the planning process, instead of larger corporate-style non-profits. Perhaps that would reduce animosity and bring back the long-term vision and morale we need.