Charter Schools in Action: Renewing Public Education

By Chester E. Finn Jr.; Bruno V. Manno et al. | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

The point is that it's time to question or justify every assump-
tion we have had about schooling for the last 150 years....
This is ... likely to produce some very new models.

Albert Shanker, 1988

THIS BOOK emerges from three and a half years of immersion in the world of charter schools under the auspices of the Educational Excellence Network. The first two of those years we devoted to a research project called " Charter Schools in Action," generously supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts and housed at the Hudson Institute. We conducted that study with Louann Bierlein, now the education policy advisor to Louisiana Governor Mike Foster. (We're pleased that Louann also appears in chapter 11.)

Our purpose was to examine practical and policy issues surrounding the creation and operation of charter schools, to begin to appraise what was, in 1995, still a new and poorly understood education reform strategy. During those two years, we visited about one hundred charter schools, interviewed hundreds of people involved with the charter movement, surveyed thousands of parents, students, and teachers, and familiarized ourselves with the policy dilemmas, political environments, and implementation problems of more than a dozen states. A sizable and well-conceived federal charter school study is now underway, but as of now, to the best of our knowledge, we have gathered and analyzed more information about this reform strategy than anyone else. While the charter scene is too dynamic for any account to remain definitive for long, we respectfully suggest that these pages come as close as is presently possible.

Numerous reports and articles emerged from our fieldwork and analysis. 1

____________________
1
"What Are We Learning About Charter Schools?" Jobs & Capital ( Spring 1996): 11-17; " Finding the Right Fit: America's Charter Schools Get Started," Brookings Review ( Summer 1996): 18-21; " Better Schools," The San Diego Tribune, 22 September 1996, G1, G6; "Charter Schools: What Have We Learned?" Aberdeen Daily World, 25 October 1996, A4; " Not Getting It Quite Right on Charter Schools," Pacific Research Institute Briefing Paper ( October 1996): 1-9; " The Empire Strikes Back," The New Democrat ( November/December 1996): 8-11; " Accountable Education," The Washington Post, 15 December 1996, C1, C2; " The False Friends of Charter Schools," Education Week, 30 April 1997, 60; "Charter

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Charter Schools in Action: Renewing Public Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Charter Schools in Action - Renewing Public Education *
  • Contents *
  • Tables *
  • List of Interviews and Profiles *
  • Introduction *
  • Part I Charter Schools in Action *
  • 1: What's a "Charter School"? *
  • 2: Field Trips *
  • 3: Where Did They Come From? *
  • 4: How Are They Working? *
  • 5: Trials by Fire *
  • 6: The Accountability Puzzle *
  • Part II Renewing Public Education *
  • 7: The Case Against Charter Schools *
  • 8: Political Battlegrounds *
  • 9: Beyond the Schoolhouse Door *
  • 10: Beyond the Schoolhouse Door *
  • 11: The Great Issues *
  • 12: Will Charter Schools Save Public Education? *
  • Epilogue *
  • Appendix: Survey Results and Methodology *
  • Index *
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