charter school policy. Particularly significant for the prospect of charter legislation in Arizona was a large pro-voucher coalition and weak teachers' unions. Powerful voucher advocates enabled charter supporters to depict charter legislation as a moderate compromise. In Arizona, even the teachers' unions came to view strong charter legislation as an acceptable compromise. After all, they occupied a weak political position and feared that legislators would enact school vouchers if they did not accept a charter school alternative. In Nevada, teachers' unions were strong and voucher supporters had little clout; thus charter legislation was the most radical alternative on the table. As a result, the NSEA could safely threaten to withhold its support from any education reform if charter advocates did not offer palatable compromises.
The charter school debate often proceeds as a normative argument about what schools should look like, what states should be doing, and how public money should be spent. Each of these issues emerged in the course of policymaking in Nevada and Arizona. Charter advocates, critics, and future policy makers must recognize, however, that the key to charter laws lies largely in the roles that state political environments play in setting the education agenda. Ideas matter, but perhaps not as much as the constellation of political forces.
Arizona Department of Education. 1997a. "Charter School Types." November 1997, URL: http: //azstamet.com/public/packages/charterschools/gr061504.gif.
Arizona Republic. 1993. Editorial, 15 March.
Arizona Republic. 1994. Editorial, 23 July.
Arizona Republic. 1997. Editorial, 24 August.
Center for Education Reform. 1996. School Reform in the United States: State by State Summary. Washington, D.C.: Center for Education Reform.
-----. 1997. School Reform in the United States: State by State Summary. Washington, D.C.: Center for Education Reform.
Clark Barbara. 1997. "Charter Questions." Las Vegas Review Journal, 30 June.
Dale Angela, and Dave DeSchryver, eds. 1997. The Charter School Workbook. Your Roadmap to the Charter School Movement. Washington, D.C.: Center for Education Reform.
Germond Jack, and Jules Witcover. 1994. "School Voucher Debate Is Taken up in Arizona." Baltimore Sun, 12 January.
Greene Andrea. 1994. "Voucher Debate Again Threatens to Sidetrack Education Reform." Arizona Republic, 9 February.
Keller Bess. 1997. "Up Against Growth." Education Week: Quality Counts, 22 January.
Kolbe John. 1994. "Reforms Gain Despite Union." Phoenix Gazette, 1 June.
Las Vegas Review Journal. 1998. Editorial, 1 April. 10 May 1999, URL: http: www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/April-01-Wed-1998/opinion/7232608.html.