Monday, October 02, 2006

All Aboard The Charters?

Checker Finn with some very insightful thoughts on charter schools.  I think Lesson #5 is particularly important -- and applies to voucher programs as well -- and is not fully appreciated in the school reform movement:
Although school-choice enthusiasts, myself included, insist that parents can be counted on to make wise education choices for their children, the charter-school experience shows that many families lack decent comparative information about their school options and that many are content with such school attributes as safety, convenience, a welcoming atmosphere, and “caring” teachers. In other words, the school’s academic effectiveness doesn’t rank high. Which means many parents enroll their kids in academically mediocre schools, cheerfully keep them there — and oppose all efforts by sponsors and state or local officials to put such schools on probation, close them down, or deny them renewed charters.
All Aboard The Charters?
The state of a movement


Charter schools have taught us much. Since Minnesota enacted America’s first charter law in 1991, 39 states have followed suit and eager school reformers have created some 4,000 of these independent public schools. About 3,600 are still operating today, enrolling approximately a million kids, 2 percent of all U.S. elementary and secondary pupils. More than a dozen cities — including Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee — now have charter sectors that serve at least one in every six children. These numbers rise annually — and would balloon if the market were able to operate freely, unconstrained by legislative compromises, funding and facilities shortfalls, and local pushback from the school establishment and its political allies.

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