Real World School Choice: Arizona Charter Schools
ROBERT MARANTO, SCOTT MILLIMAN, FREDERICK HESS, APRIL GRESHAM
In the last ten years, issues of choice in education have grown dramatically in prominence. Debates about school charters and school vouchers elicit high passion, meaning that much of the debate about charter schooling and school vouchers leans toward the emotional rather than the empirical. Choice proponents believe that vouchers (which parents could use at private schools) or public charter schools (which compete with and are independent of local school districts) will solve perceived education woes. Choice opponents fear that such drastic reforms raise serious concerns about equity and accountability, while promising nothing traditional schools do not already offer.
Although polls find that the public generally favors school choice in the abstract, the margins of support are often narrow and depend on the exact plans described. Policy makers are similarly divided: Republicans typically support more school choice, whereas Democrats are divided about or simply opposed to such choice. In 1998, public referenda on school vouchers were hotly contested and defeated in California and Colorado, but more such proposals are sure to surface in other states ( Cookson 1994; Henig 1994; Feistritzer 1996; Doherty 1998; Milbank 1998). This book explores the implications of one key form of school choice--charter schooling. The authors explore the issue primarily by considering charter