Charter Schools: Creating Hope and Opportunity for American Education

By Joe Nathan | Go to book overview

Chapter Three

Breaking the
District Monopoly

Earlier, I pointed out that just as expansions of the right to vote and of workers' rights were opposed by people who already held power and did not want to share it, so the charter school movement has, on its own smaller scale, been opposed by an array of powerful educational groups. Despite the many committed, talented educators, our public education system often does not prize progress or reward risk takers. In fact, the system often frustrates innovative teachers and caring parents. There is too much bitterness as school boards, teachers unions, and district administrators blame each other for their frustrations. There are too few incentives for improvement in the current system. The charter school movement can help produce some critically needed changes.

This chapter explains why change often is slow and difficult. Then it illustrates how strong charter school laws have encouraged improvement.

Most changes in any field are controversial. And so it is in education: teachers, parents, administrators, and school board members who propose new approaches know that some people will resist because it generally is easier and less stressful for people to continue doing things in the same way. Ted Kolderie explains some of the resistance: “As they consider proposals for change, the superintendent, board, principal, union and teachers weigh the potential benefits to the kids against the risk of creating 'internal stress.' They want to help the kids. But upsetting people might create controversy. It might produce a grievance. It might lose an election. It might cause a strike. It might damage a career.”1 Ultimately,

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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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