School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools

By Robert Maranto; Scott Milliman et al. | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Although limitation of new charters, increased accountability, and clearly defined parental rights would go a long way toward resolving our current problems, these changes are not likely to happen any time soon. Our Republican-controlled legislature has refused steadfastly to do anything charter school supporters would be opposed to. However, I predict that the cost of these schools will eventually force these legislators to take notice.

Arizona's economy is going strong now; only a fool would expect it to last forever. We have initiated hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts, many of which have been phased in, that eventually will hamper our ability to provide needed services to our citizens. In addition, Arizona has just assumed responsibility for funding all of the capital needs of our schools, including building all new schools and bringing old schools up to building adequacy standards. When we have our next fiscal crisis, we will have no choice but to evaluate the escalating costs of our charter school movement.

Two factors may accelerate the problem. First, standard public school districts may start to charter their existing schools. In exchange for a little bit of paperwork, they could get the extra $600-$700 per student that charter schools now receive. Second, the supreme court may require charter school buildings to meet the same adequacy standards as existing public school buildings, which would require tens of millions more dollars of capital investment by the state.

As it stands now, however, the Arizona charter school movement is heading for a train wreck, and the legislature is asleep at the wheel. Ultimately it is my belief that Arizona's experiment has done more harm than good to the national effort to reform education.


Notes
1.
School Financing Act of 1994, 41st Arizona State Legislature, 2d regular session.
2.
School Improvement Act of 1994, 41st Arizona State Legislature, 9th special session.
3.
Students FIRST, chapter 1, 43rd Arizona State Legislature, 5th special session.
4.
Timothy M. Hogan, Executive Director, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest.

References

Arizona Daily Star. 1998. Editorial, June 16.

Arizona Republic. 1997. "Valley News in Brief: State Threatening to Shut Down School," January 14.

-210-

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School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1: Real World School Choice: Arizona Charter Schools 1
  • Notes 15
  • References 15
  • PART ONE Theoretical and National Perspectives 17
  • 2: And This Parent Went to Market: Education as Public Versus Private Good 19
  • Notes 35
  • Notes 36
  • 3: The Death of One Best Way: Charter Schools as Reinventing Government 39
  • Notes 55
  • References 55
  • 4: Congress and Charter Schools 58
  • Notes 65
  • Notes 67
  • 5: Charter Schools: A National Innovation, an Arizona Revolution 68
  • Notes 92
  • References 92
  • PART TWO Social Scientists Look at Arizona Charter Schools 97
  • 6: The Wild West of Education Reform: Arizona Charter Schools 99
  • References 114
  • 7: Why Arizona Embarked on School Reform (and Nevada Did Not) 115
  • References 127
  • 8: Do Charter Schools Improve District Schools? Three Approaches to the Question 129
  • Notes 139
  • Notes 140
  • 9: Closing Charters: How a Good Theory Failed in Practice 142
  • Conclusion and Recommendations for Policy Makers 156
  • Notes 158
  • References 158
  • 10: Nothing New: Curricula in Arizona Charter Schools 159
  • References 172
  • 11: How Arizona Teachers View School Reform 173
  • Notes 184
  • References 184
  • PART THREE Practitioners Look at Arizona Charter Schools 187
  • 12: The Empowerment of Market-Based School Reform 189
  • Notes 197
  • References 197
  • 13: A Voice from the State Legislature: Don'T Do What Arizona Did! 198
  • Notes 210
  • References 210
  • 14: Public Schools and the Charter Movement: An Emerging Relationship 212
  • Notes 220
  • References 220
  • 15: Whose Idea Was This Anyway? The Challenging Metamorphosis from Private to Charter 222
  • Notes 233
  • References 233
  • PART FOUR Lessons 235
  • 16: In Lieu of Conclusions: Tentative Lessons from a Contested Frontier 237
  • References 247
  • About the Editors and Contributors 249
  • Index 253
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