Will Charter Schools Lead to a Systemic Reform of Public Education?

By Wronkovich, Michael | American Secondary Education, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Will Charter Schools Lead to a Systemic Reform of Public Education?


Wronkovich, Michael, American Secondary Education


Abstract

If there has been any one common theme in educational reform in the last two decades of the 20th Century, it can be captured in two words - school choice. Whether through open enrollment, vouchers or charter schools, the drumbeat of choice echoes in the halls of virtually every state legislature in the country. But the charter school movement bas been the fastest vehicle to take off. With vouchers mired in court battles and open enrollment viewed as a limited choice offering, reformers have pinned their hopes on charter schools. This paper is designed to give a brief overview of the status of the charter school movement at the close of its first decade.

"Imagine, for a moment, a public education system in which every school is a charter school. Radical? You bet." (Osborne, 1999). What a remarkable statement this is to appear in print. You might expect that such a statement would be found in a document published by a charter school advocacy group. Yet, the statement comes from the National Commission on Governing America's Schools, a group created by the Education Commission of the States. How did we go from Milton Friedman's advocacy of free-market competition in the 1950's to a statement like the one above? What is more important, is the school choice fever of the 1990's the precursor to real change in our system of public education in America in the 21st Century?

The goal of this paper is to examine some of the issues that have arisen in the decade of the 1990's as charter schools have sprung up across the nation. At the beginning of the decade a mere handful of states had begun the process of passing laws allowing for the chartering of schools. By the end of the decade, nearly 300,000 students are attending classes in the 1,205 charter schools. There are now 37 states with charter school laws on the books, which is quite astounding for such a short time. While the charter movement has been given a lukewarm greeting from the public school establishment, the movement has become the darling of the media. Time magazine has called them the "New Hope for Public Schools" (Wallis, 1994). The New York Times calls them the "Latest `Best Hope' in U.S. Education" (Applebome, 1994). These are stunning statements much like the words from the National Commission. But are charter schools the lightning rod of change as some have suggested?

What are Charter Schools?

In 1991, Minnesota began the chartering movement by enacting the first charter school law The law was designed to give teachers the opportunity to "charter" schools that would be free of most state and local regulations. The schools could be operated as nonprofit ventures. Nonsectarian in nature, the charter schools, in effect, were private schools that would be publicly supported. Within four years, the number of states with charter school laws on the books had risen to eleven.

The nature of the schools revolves around the concept of empowering teachers and parents at the building level to create the type of school they want within very broad guidelines. By lifting the myriad of bureaucratic regulations from the charter schools, lawmakers seek to give teachers the optimum chance to create models that fit the needs of the locality they serve. In a 1995 survey of over one hundred charter schools, researchers found that what had been created to date were usually small elementary schools. Founders stated that their focus was on items such as "integrated interdisciplinary curriculum," or "technology," or "back to the basics" (University of Minnesota, 1995).

At the end of the decade of the 1990's, the nature of chartered schools had taken several steps forward. According to the National Charter School Directory, the growth of schools has picked up substantially. From the 19971998 school year to the 1998-1999 school year, the number of charter schools had grown by 65 percent, with 473 new schools opening in the fall of 1998. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Will Charter Schools Lead to a Systemic Reform of Public Education?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.