Charter Schools Now Big Business Nationwide Management Firms Bring Money, Clout to Help Operate Them

By Chute, Eleanor | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), December 3, 2012 | Go to article overview

Charter Schools Now Big Business Nationwide Management Firms Bring Money, Clout to Help Operate Them


Chute, Eleanor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The early charter schools in Pennsylvania were largely the product of passionate parents or community groups, who sometimes planned their dream schools around the kitchen table.

But the picture has changed dramatically since the charter school law was passed in Pennsylvania in 1997, with an expansion of education management organizations that bring big money and clout into the picture.

While some of the early charter planners succeeded -- such as the Manchester Youth Development Center on the North Side, which then offered an after-school tutoring program and started the Manchester Academic Charter School -- many schools never materialized, with some planners saying it was harder than expected to come up with the necessary capital and expertise.

That was before so many businesses aimed at providing curriculum, management and facilities entered the scene, including organizations that don't just assist but help initiate support for a charter school.

Charter schools are public schools that have their own boards and are chartered by a local school district in the case of a bricks- and-mortar charter or by the state for a cyber charter. School districts pay a fee set by the state for their residents to attend.

Increasingly, locally elected school officials are finding their districts competing against charter schools allied with big organizations with big money and their own ideas for students.

"It's had a large impact on the growth of charter school reform," said Gary Miron, an education professor at Western Michigan University who studies charter schools.

Growth of EMOs

The number of education management organizations has exploded on the national scene -- for-profit groups growing from five in 1995- 96 to 99 in 2010-11 and nonprofit organizations growing from 48 in 1998 to 197 in 2010-11 -- according to the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder.

That report showed that 35 percent of all public charter schools in the nation were operated by education management organizations -- both for-profit and nonprofit -- enrolling 42 percent of the nation's charter school students.

"Within a couple of years, we're going to see the EMO sector account for more than half of the nation's public charter school students," said Mr. Miron, one of the authors of the policy center's report.

Mr. Miron said charter school growth plateaued around 2001-02 but got a significant boost from education management organizations.

"There's only a certain number of people who are going to sit around a kitchen table to start a charter school," he said. "It was very complicated to run a school. Initially people thought anybody could open up a school, but eventually the stories came out about how difficult it was."

Ron Cowell, president of the Education Policy and Leadership Council and a state legislator when the charter school law was passed, said the Legislature didn't envision "this idea of a national outfit deciding that there's a business profit-making opportunity in Pennsylvania and they would come in and either help to establish a not-for-profit or find a not-for-profit."

But given a lack of capacity or expertise by some who would like to start a charter school, "I think it's reasonable that somebody else would be paid to do this management stuff," he said, but added that there are questions about whether the fees are reasonable and whether there is enough accountability and transparency at some charter schools.

As education management organizations grew, they began to play a major role in fostering growth of charter schools, including encouraging the formation of some cyber charter schools which attract thousands of students.

"What we are having now is private control of public schools," said Mr. Miron.

One of the goals of charter schools, of course, is to improve academic achievement. Though there are high-performing and low- performing schools in both categories, in overall comparisons of charter schools to each other, Mr. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Charter Schools Now Big Business Nationwide Management Firms Bring Money, Clout to Help Operate Them
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.