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ERIC Number: EJ780967
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Wave of the Future: Why Charter Schools Should Replace Failing Urban Schools
Smarick, Andy
Education Next, v8 n1 p38-45 Win 2008
In a decade and a half, the charter school movement has gone from a glimmer in the eyes of a few Minnesota reformers to a maturing sector of America's public education system. Now, like all 15-year-olds, chartering must find its own place in the world. First, advocates must answer a fundamental question: What type of relationship should the nascent charter sector have with the long-dominant district sector? The tension between the two is at the heart of every political, policy, and philosophical tangle faced by the charter movement. But charter supporters lack a consistent vision. This motley crew includes civil rights activists, free market economists, career public-school educators, and voucher proponents. They have varied aspirations for the movement and feelings toward the traditional system. Such differences are part of the movement's DNA: a National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) study found that the nation's charter laws cite at least 18 different goals, including spurring competition, increasing professional opportunities for teachers, and encouraging greater use of technology. Because of its uniqueness, chartering is unable to look to previous reform efforts for guidance. No K-12 reform has so fundamentally questioned the basic assumptions--school assignments based on residence, centralized administrative control, schools lasting in perpetuity--underlying the district model of public education. Even the sweeping standards and assessments movement of the last 20 years, culminating in No Child Left Behind, takes for granted and makes use of the district sector. Though few charter advocates have openly wrestled with this issue, two camps have organically emerged. The first sees chartering as an education system operating alongside traditional districts. The second group sees chartering as a tool to help the traditional sector improve. Both camps have accepted an exceptionally limited view of what this sector might accomplish. In fact, chartering's potential extends far beyond the role of stepchild or assistant to districts. The only course that is sustainable, for both chartering and urban education, embraces a third, more expansive view of the movement's future: replace the district-based system in America's large cities with fluid, self-improving systems of charter schools. (Contains 2 figures.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Minnesota
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001