One can resist the invasion of armies
but not the invasion of ideas.
The charter idea is part of a two-hundred-year effort in this country to expand opportunity, especially for those who are not wealthy and powerful. Many charter school advocates come from the same worldview as people like Susan B. Anthony, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez, people who spent their lives working with and for people who had little power and influence.
This is a book for people who believe, or would like to believe, that schools can help youngsters. All kinds of youngsters. Young people from troubled families. Young people who are angry and alienated. Young people who are bright and bored. Young people who feel lost or frustrated in large schools. People—educators, parents, community leaders, policy makers—who believe that schools can make a difference in the lives of youngsters will get support here.
Charter proponents readily agree that significant problems in this society are producing troubled families and challenging youngsters. It is vital to work toward a more just and a fairer society that will prize all youngsters and strengthen families. But acknowledging enormous problems outside schools does not mean that educators cannot do a much better job at helping youngsters inside schools. That is what effective, talented educators have long believed. The charter public school movement gives them the opportunity to carry out their dreams.
The charter school idea is about the creation of more accountable public schools, and the removal of the “exclusive franchise”1 that local school boards presently have. Charter schools are public,