Hugs and kisses to Dean Millot (and Alexander Russo, and frickin' Scholastic for that matter) for publishing Tom Toch's original draft of his Ed Sector report, Growing Pains: Scaling Up the Nation’s Best Charter Schools. It is simply the clearest and most informative explanation of how the vaunted Charter Management Organization industry works. If you want to understand what's really going on at KIPP, etc., read this. Not that it is some kind of expose or damning indictment.
It rings true to me because I know what goes into running a small urban high school, and I had opportunities to talk to leaders of some of the more prominent progressive CMO's in the first half of the decade.
I could quote huge chunks of this, but you should just read the whole thing. My favorite paragraph:
And the leading charter networks have made a strong case for increased funding for disadvantaged students. Many of the education commentators who lavish praise on KIPP and other high-performing charter networks also argue that there is sufficient money for traditional public schools to educate students effectively, if only the money were spent more efficiently. Charter management organizations, much freer than traditional public schools to use their resources as they like, have put that proposition to the test and proven it doesn’t apply in many parts of the country. To get strong results they have had to spend more money than they expected, and more money than has been available to them in many parts of the country—above and beyond the cost of their buildings and their lower state and local funding. Under the education models of the highest-achieving charter networks, it takes more to do more.
If you really want a summary, Claus's is good.