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ERIC Number: EJ1126542
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jan
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1540-8000
Charter Schools and Democratic Accountability
Henig, Jeffrey R.
State Education Standard, v17 n1 p26-29, 37 Jan 2017
In this article, Jeffrey R. Henig states that there is no strong accountability at charter schools without the strong oversight of public officials. When charter schooling first erupted on the scene, policymakers and citizens had little choice but to base their reactions on theory, ideology, or hunch. However twenty-five years in, there is still hot contestation around what the evidence shows about the nation's charter experiment and how it should be interpreted. Whether one likes or dislikes charters, two things seem reasonably clear: (1) Charters are here to stay. They are embedded in many states and communities and are protected by devoted and potent constituencies; and (2) Charters are not like the Energizer bunny: Public officials cannot simply wind them up and hope they will keep on running in the right direction. It requires charter operators and funders to make responsible choices, but it cannot depend on them alone. It also depends critically on public officials and those who elect them. A strong notion of democratic accountability calls for robust attention to the processes by which charters are approved and extended. Charter authorizers are the most direct extension of public authority, but their nature, capacity, and behavior vary widely. A commitment to strong democratic accountability requires that tough questions about competing values be discussed and decided in public institutions, like legislatures and courts, that are open to varying perspectives, subject to freedom of information requirements, oriented toward finding common ground where it exists, and committed to openly debating and resolving conflicting values and interests where it does not.
National Association of State Boards of Education. 2121 Crystal Drive Suite 350, Arlington, VA 22202. Tel: 800-368-5023; Tel: 703-684-4000; Fax: 703-836-2313; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A