Public Schools and the Charter Movement: An Emerging Relationship
LEE L. HAGER
This chapter examines the relationship between traditional public schools and public charter schools, in the view of this educator. 1 What follows are my own views, which do not reflect those of all district school teachers and officials, who are a diverse group. I will cover the six stages of Arizona charter schooling: (1) traditional public schools before the new wave; (2) the emergence of charter schools; (3) public school reaction to charter schools; (4) how the traditional school establishment stopped fearing charter schools and learned to work with them; (5) benefits of charter school and public school collaboration; and, finally, (6) future predictions.
Traditionally, public schools' competition was private education, but few private schools were started to replace a failing public school system. Though private schools did compete with public schools, that was not their focus. Most were organized to express religious beliefs that could not be taught in public schools, or to allow wealthy children to socialize with children of their socioeconomic status. The numbers of these private schools remained constant, or even declined due to increased costs ( Bryk et al. 1993; Cookson 1994).
I believe that in Arizona the first real challenge to public education came from the home-school movement. Some families chose to educate their young at home to promote their own religious values or to avoid problems