The charter movement at 14

The charter-school movement, now 14 years old, is a typical teen-ager, writes Chester Finn on Gadfly. It needs to grow up and get beyond “some favorite myths from its childhood.”

Foremost among these:

That just about anyone can run a good school and should be allowed to try.
That authorizers (a.k.a. sponsors) and authorizing aren’t very important.
That academic results aren’t too important, either, so long as people are eager to attend the school.
That great schools can make it on a financial shoestring.
That the charter movement can succeed in decentralized fashion, without coherent leadership, common agendas, and structured organizations.

No Child Left Behind “poses new challenges . . . including its single-minded emphasis on academic achievement; its impatience with school autonomy and diversity (and tendency to wrap all schools in uniform rules and measures); and the mixed blessing of its threat to ‘reconstitute’ failing district schools as involuntary charter schools.”

Gadfly also links to an Education Week story on the challenge of closing charters that don’t work, and an analysis of charter school research by Bryan Hassel of the Charter School Leadership Council.

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