“I'm a convert to the charter movement.” That's how Kent Matheson, superintendent of the Flagstaff, Arizona, public schools put it, surprising the two hundred or so school administrators who had gathered in Boise, Idaho, to hear a debate about the value of charter public schools. The program organizers thought I would present the pro-charter side and Matheson would present the “con” position. It didn't work out that way. He and I agreed that the charter movement was a fundamental, important, and positive change.
That was one of the most intriguing, encouraging days I've spent in the two years since the first edition of this book was published. Matheson's rethinking helps illustrate some of the changes the charter idea has produced over the last couple of years. The next few pages offer a brief update on the charter movement's growth, evolution, and challenges.
Almost every day, people call or write with important, thoughtful questions about the charter school movement. Parents wonder, “Do you know of charter schools in my neighborhood (or city or area or state) that would help my children?” Educators ask, “How can I start a charter school? Do you know of charters that are looking for educators to work in them?” Journalists have their own questions: “Can or will charters improve achievement? What happens to other public schools when charters start? What are good charter schools to visit?” This book was written to help answer these and many other questions.
Perhaps my biggest challenge is to convey the positive impact of the charter movement on thousands of students, educators, and