ERIC Number: ED443899
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Making a Choice, Making a Difference? An Evaluation of Charter Schools in the District of Columbia.
Henig, Jeffrey R.; Moser, Michele; Holyoke, Thomas T.; Lacireno-Paquet, Natalie; Holyoke, Thomas T.
This report is an assessment of the charter school program in the District of Columbia during the 1998-1999 school year. It provides descriptive information on public charter schools based on more than 70 interviews with school leaders, teachers, parents, charter advocates, and government officials. Findings show that charter schools in the District of Columbia have found an eager clientele. Although it was initially imposed by Congress, the charter school concept in many respects reflects the District's tradition of homegrown efforts to reform education through decentralization and choice. From the perspective of DC parents, the specific pedagogical and organizational distinctions among the charter schools may be less significant than the simple fact that they represent something different from their children's current schools. The smaller size and more intimate setting of charter schools may also contribute to their appeal. For those who fear that charter schools will cater to an already favored elite, the evidence from the District is generally reassuring. However, preliminary evidence suggests that charter schools will not produce the substantial cost-savings that some envisioned. Evidence does not suggest that parental involvement is higher for public charter schools, and it is too early to determine whether public charter schools have improved student achievement. Charter school progress in the District of Columbia suffers from breakdowns in communication and some bureaucratic tensions, but some of the tension is a predictable and perhaps unavoidable offshoot of the deliberately ambiguous nature of the charter concept. It is not yet clear whether charter schools will lead to the revitalization of the traditional public education system or its evisceration. Some recommendations are made for the cautious embrace of charter schools with targeted support and clear management policies. (Contains 9 figures, 4 tables, and 66 endnotes.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: George Washington Univ., Washington, DC. Center for Washington Area Studies.
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia