“Do Charter Schools Deserve the Spotlight?”

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asks National Journal on its education blog. Ed Reformers like Tom Vander Ark and Andrew Rotherham say “yes,” as do five other experts. Two people vote “no”: Dennis van Roekel, President of NEA says,

Charter schools are not a magic bullet, and they aren’t the only schools where you can find innovative ideas at work today… Thankfully, the Administration has listened to NEA and others who were concerned about the emphasis on charters. The revised guidelines for the Race to the Top grants now refer to “innovative, autonomous schools” — which is not limited to charters.

Diane Ravitch, the other nay-sayer, is less equivocal:

Charter schools are being overhyped and oversold. They are no panacea. They represent deregulation and privatization. Deregulation nearly destroyed our national economy. What will it do to public education?

Mike Antonucci of Education Intelligence Agency sums it up:

If charter schools were all controlled by school districts, administrator opposition to them would evaporate. If they were all unionized, NEA and AFT would rarely find them worthy of comment, much less prolonged campaigns of containment. But then, they wouldn’t be charter schools anymore, would they?

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1 Comment

  • Dora Taylor, December 9, 2009 @ 6:17 am Reply

    What Is a Charter School?

    The basic difference between a traditional public school and a privately run charter school is that with a charter school there is complete control of the school by a private enterprise within a public school district. Although taxpayer-funded, charters operate without the same degree of public and district oversight of a standard public school. Most charter schools do not hire union teachers which means that they can demand the teacher work longer hours including weekends at the school site and pay less than union wages. Charter schools take the school district's allotment of money provided for each student within the public schools system and use it to develop their programs. In many systems, they receive that allotment without having to pay for other costs such as transportation for students to and from the school. Some states, such as Minnesota, actually allocate more than what is granted to public school students. See:



    A charter school can expel any student that it doesn't believe fits within its standards or meets its level of expectation in terms of test scores. If the student is dropped off the rolls of the charter school, the money that was allotted for that student may or may not be returned to the district at the beginning of the next year. That is dependent upon the contract that is established by each district.

    Also, according to a recent (June 15, 2009) study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), charter schools do not necessarily perform any better than public schools. In fact, 37 percent performed worse. Forty-six percent demonstrated “no significant difference” from public schools. Only 17 percent of charter schools performed better than public schools. See:


    For additional information, see:


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