Charting the Future
Twenty years from now, will the charter movement be a chapter or a footnote in school reform? The charter movement's first five years have been a time of remarkable growth, fierce political struggle, and intense media interest. Yet it is impossible to know for sure what lies ahead.
Charter schools are no panacea. Just setting up a school like City Academy, PSl Charter School, or O'Farrell Community School is not nearly enough. It must then carry out its mission and goals, day to day. As one Colorado charter school teacher told me, “This is the most exciting job I've ever had, and I love it. It's also the hardest.” But those hard jobs are producing results. This chapter contains some final observations about what those in the charter school movement could do to help not just the thousands of students that charter schools presently serve but also the millions of American students who need a better education than they are getting.
Is Part of a 200-Year Effort to Expand Opportunity
It is important for everyone to understand that the charter school concept has deep roots. It is an outgrowth of the 200-year effort in this country to expand educational opportunity, especially for those who are not wealthy and powerful. Those who have power almost always insist that major changes proposed are unnecessary and probably would lead to greater harm for the people they are intended to help. They distort the goals of new movements. They use their power to block, delay, restrict, and obstruct. This lesson