School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools

By Robert Maranto; Scott Milliman et al. | Go to book overview

4
Congress and Charter Schools

DAVID L. LEAL

Although all eyes are on charter school legislation in state capitals, the federal government has recently taken significant steps in the area. In order to understand the Arizona experience and the charter school movement in context, it is useful to understand the politics of charters in the nation's capital during the 1991-1998 period. This chapter discusses the inaugural federal charter school law of 1994 and the political context of education reform that year. Subsequent charter efforts in the next two congresses also will be discussed. Much has changed since 1994: Not only has funding appropriation increased from $6 million to $100 million, but in a classic trade-off, the requirements imposed on states in exchange for federal dollars are growing more extensive. Federal education laws are also becoming more "charter-friendly" over time.

This chapter is based on both printed and electronic sources and interviews with House and Senate staff members who have worked with the charter school issue. 1 The interviews were conducted during October 1998.


Getting Started: The 1994 ESEA Reauthorization

Charter schools were first funded by Congress through a small provision in the $12.7 billion 1994 reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). 2 The measure passed on October 5, in the final days of the 103rd Congress.

The charter school provision was included under Title X, Part C--"Programs of National Significance." It authorized $15 million (or.001 percent of the total reauthorization and 3.5 percent of Title X spending) for the

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School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1: Real World School Choice: Arizona Charter Schools 1
  • Notes 15
  • References 15
  • PART ONE Theoretical and National Perspectives 17
  • 2: And This Parent Went to Market: Education as Public Versus Private Good 19
  • Notes 35
  • Notes 36
  • 3: The Death of One Best Way: Charter Schools as Reinventing Government 39
  • Notes 55
  • References 55
  • 4: Congress and Charter Schools 58
  • Notes 65
  • Notes 67
  • 5: Charter Schools: A National Innovation, an Arizona Revolution 68
  • Notes 92
  • References 92
  • PART TWO Social Scientists Look at Arizona Charter Schools 97
  • 6: The Wild West of Education Reform: Arizona Charter Schools 99
  • References 114
  • 7: Why Arizona Embarked on School Reform (and Nevada Did Not) 115
  • References 127
  • 8: Do Charter Schools Improve District Schools? Three Approaches to the Question 129
  • Notes 139
  • Notes 140
  • 9: Closing Charters: How a Good Theory Failed in Practice 142
  • Conclusion and Recommendations for Policy Makers 156
  • Notes 158
  • References 158
  • 10: Nothing New: Curricula in Arizona Charter Schools 159
  • References 172
  • 11: How Arizona Teachers View School Reform 173
  • Notes 184
  • References 184
  • PART THREE Practitioners Look at Arizona Charter Schools 187
  • 12: The Empowerment of Market-Based School Reform 189
  • Notes 197
  • References 197
  • 13: A Voice from the State Legislature: Don'T Do What Arizona Did! 198
  • Notes 210
  • References 210
  • 14: Public Schools and the Charter Movement: An Emerging Relationship 212
  • Notes 220
  • References 220
  • 15: Whose Idea Was This Anyway? The Challenging Metamorphosis from Private to Charter 222
  • Notes 233
  • References 233
  • PART FOUR Lessons 235
  • 16: In Lieu of Conclusions: Tentative Lessons from a Contested Frontier 237
  • References 247
  • About the Editors and Contributors 249
  • Index 253
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