The point is that it's time to question or justify every assump-
tion we have had about schooling for the last 150 years....
This is ... likely to produce some very new models.
Albert Shanker, 1988
THIS BOOK emerges from three and a half years of immersion in the world of charter schools under the auspices of the Educational Excellence Network. The first two of those years we devoted to a research project called " Charter Schools in Action," generously supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts and housed at the Hudson Institute. We conducted that study with Louann Bierlein, now the education policy advisor to Louisiana Governor Mike Foster. (We're pleased that Louann also appears in chapter 11.)
Our purpose was to examine practical and policy issues surrounding the creation and operation of charter schools, to begin to appraise what was, in 1995, still a new and poorly understood education reform strategy. During those two years, we visited about one hundred charter schools, interviewed hundreds of people involved with the charter movement, surveyed thousands of parents, students, and teachers, and familiarized ourselves with the policy dilemmas, political environments, and implementation problems of more than a dozen states. A sizable and well-conceived federal charter school study is now underway, but as of now, to the best of our knowledge, we have gathered and analyzed more information about this reform strategy than anyone else. While the charter scene is too dynamic for any account to remain definitive for long, we respectfully suggest that these pages come as close as is presently possible.
Numerous reports and articles emerged from our fieldwork and analysis. 1____________________