lic is led to think this is the norm. The problem is that the media experience great difficulty covering an institution with dozens of committees and subcommittees, multiple leaders, and 535 voting members. Controversy makes the media's job easy, but the result does not provide an accurate view of Congress at work. As Martin ( 1994: 153) concluded about her education bill, "The situation is typical of much of the work of Congress: it is done with little, in any, notice by the press."
Limited media coverage does not mean that charter legislation is unimportant. In fact, although the noise generated by other education issues distracted attention from charter provisions, charters ultimately may prove more significant than many more carefully scrutinized policy proposals. In the words of Senator Lieberman:
It would not be too difficult to overlook this legislation. Compared to some of the high-profile education bills we have considered recently, this is a modest and largely anonymous proposal. . . . Nevertheless, I believe that this may turn out to be one of the most important and constructive bills that we enact into law during this season. What we have agreed to do today will help take the charter school model from novelty to the norm in this country, and thereby bolster the most promising engine of education reform at work in America today. 14
What is the future of the federal role in charter schools? One congressional staffer said there is "no political will" to cut charter schools, and very few people or organizations are outspoken in their opposition to them. Although some members of Congress have "concerns" or "questions" about charters, few desire to lead the charge against them. Some members might prefer different spending priorities for education dollars, but that does not translate into actively opposing charters.
One possibility is that Congress will change the program from a discretionary / competitive grant-making process to one with an allocation formula. Other suggestions for change include targeting federal money to the acquisition of new charter school physical facilities and to developing and testing new types of achievement tests in order to better ensure accountability ( CRS 1998: 27-30).