Charter confusion

Fifteen years after the first charter law passed, with more than a million students attending nearly 4,000 charter schools, most people think charter schools are private, charge tuition, teach religion and pick and choose their students, writes Rick Hess on Gadfly, citing the Phi Delta Kappan poll. But they like charters anyhow.

Being mislabeled as “private” and selective is damning because Americans embrace what Stanford University political scientist Terry Moe has termed the “public school ideology.” Moe, a staunch advocate of school choice, has reported, for instance, that 41% of non-parents and 40% of public school parents agree with the statement, “The more children attend public schools, rather than private or parochial schools, the better it is for American society.”

. . . Now for the surprise twist. Although most Americans think charters are tuition-charging, student-selecting private schools, a clear majority now tells Gallup that it nonetheless favors charter schooling. When these schools are described as “operat[ing] under a charter or contract that frees them from many of the state regulations imposed on public schools,” respondents supported charters 53% to 34%. Among public school parents, that lead stretched to 28 points-59% to 31%. Among non-parents, charters are favored 50% to 37%.

Support for charters has grown dramatically in the last seven years, Hess writes.

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  1. Over *half* of parents with kids in public schools attach no mysticism to said schools, and we’re supposed to believe that charters are in trouble because people think they’re private and selective?

  2. Robert Wright says:

    Is there a website where I can go and see a list of all of the charter schools in California and read their charters?

    I’d like to see exactly what the typical approved charter looks like.

  3. The confusion is probably caused in part by school administrators who project a hostile attitude toward the charters and imply that they aren’t *really* public schools.

    Kind of like what you might see in an old-line company where senior management is suspicious of their new and innovative division.

    Except that in that case, the company will–if it doesn’t get wise–simply go out of business and limit the damage. In the case of the schools, the incumbent administrators just sit there, regardless of the harm they cause.

  4. Wayne Martin says:

    > Is there a website where I can go and see a
    > list of all of the charter schools in
    > California and read their charters?

    I don’t think so. The list of Charters can be found on the CA.DoE WEB-site, but the actual charters are not there.

    One can look up some of the school WEB-sites from the list, and see if there are charters on-line. Should there not be, email the principal and ask for a copy to be emailed (or snail-mailed).