Charter Schools: Creating Hope and Opportunity for American Education

By Joe Nathan | Go to book overview

Introduction

A New Choice
Charter schools are public schools, financed by the same per-pupil funds that traditional public schools receive. Unlike traditional public schools, however, they are held accountable for achieving educational results. In return, they receive waivers that exempt them from many of the restrictions and bureaucratic rules that shape traditional public schools. The charter school movement brings together, for the first time in public education, four powerful ideas:
Choice among public schools for families and their children
Entrepreneurial opportunities for educators and parents to create the kinds of schools they believe make the most sense
Explicit responsibility for improved achievement, as measured by standardized tests and other measures
Carefully designed competition in public education

This chapter explains the basic principles of the charter idea and then contrasts them with other reform concepts such as school site management, magnet schools, and vouchers. Individual charter schools have many differences in the students they attract and their curricula and approaches to learning. Some would be considered conservative; others are liberal. Some defy easy philosophical description. But despite these differences at the individual level, it is possible to define what the charter school movement is and what it is not.


The Charter School Strategy

The charter school concept is about an opportunity, not a blueprint. Here are the key elements of a model charter school strategy (summarized in the sidebar, p. 2).

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Charter Schools: Creating Hope and Opportunity for American Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface to the Paperback Edition xiii
  • Preface xxvii
  • Introduction - A New Choice 1
  • Part One - Introducing Charter Schools 21
  • Chapter One - A Tour of Charter Schools 23
  • Chapter Two - The Birth of a Movement 55
  • Part Two - How Charter Schools Are Changing the System 73
  • Chapter Three - Breaking the District Monopoly 75
  • Chapter Four - A New Role for Unions 93
  • Part Three - Creating Charter Schools 119
  • Chapter Five - Getting Started 121
  • Chapter Six - Building Support 131
  • Chapter Seven - Staying in Business 142
  • Part Four - Where To, What Next 165
  • Chapter Eight - Key Early Lessons 167
  • Chapter Nine - Charting the Future 180
  • Appendix A - Charter Activity State by State 187
  • Appendix B - Model Charter School Law 207
  • Appendix C - Additional Resources 223
  • Notes 227
  • The Author 239
  • Index 241
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