Sandra Vergari The Charter School Landscape

ISBN 13: 9780822963363

The Charter School Landscape

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Charter schools are publicly funded entities that enjoy freedom from many of the regulations under which traditional public schools operate. There are, however, state and local variations in charter school legislation and implementation. The Charter School Landscape is the first book to analyze and compare charter school politics and policies across a broad range of jurisdictions.

The first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1992. Within nine years, there were more than 2,000 charter schools operating in thirty-four states, Washington, D.C., and Alberta, Canada. Public discourse on the charter school reform is often passionate and politically motivated. Sandra Vergari has assembled a group of experts to present a more reflective and scholarly discussion of the reform, its performance to date, and its implications for public policy.

Each chapter focuses on a single state or province, and systematically addresses such issues as charter school laws, the politics of policy implementation, charter school accountability, controversies and trends, and prospects for the future. In addition, the contributors emphasize significant issues specific to each state that offer lessons for analysts and policymakers everywhere. As a whole, The Charter School Landscape suggests that charter schools are having a significant impact on the institution of public education and how we think about the concept of the "real public school.”

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From the Inside Flap:

The charter school movement has grown significantly since the first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1992. A decade later, over 2,200 charter schools are operating across thirty-four states, the District of Columbia, and Alberta, Canada, with a total enrollment of more than 550,000 students and a continued growth forecast. The movement has also received considerable financial aid from the federal government, with U.S. appropriations rising from $6 million to $145 million in just over five years.

Yet, despite enrollment growth and governmental support, charter schools have not been immune to criticism. Opponents lament the diversion of public funds from traditional public schools as parents choose to place their children in charter schools. Critics claim charter schools foster greater social and racial stratification and undermine the socialization function of public education in a diverse democracy. School choice proponents argue that there will always be more informed, more alert, and more aggressive parents who seek the best education for their children and that charter schools alleviate, rather than exacerbate, existing inequities.

Through analysis of programs in eleven U.S. states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin—and the Canadian province of Alberta, The Charter School Landscape offers a balanced discussion of the charter school movement, its performance to date, and its implications for public policy. Sandra Vergari has assembled a group of experts to examine how the charter school concept has been interpreted and implemented. Each chapter focuses on an individual jurisdiction, combining investigation of common themes, such as the politics of policy implementation and charter school accountability, with state-specific topics, including charter school laws, academic performance, equity concerns, and policy recommendations.

The Charter School Landscape addresses both pro- and anticharter opinions with sound logic, data, and references—elements often missing in a charter school discourse frequently motivated by passion and politics. The contributors illuminate issues particular to each state and offer lessons for analysts and policymakers everywhere. As a whole, The Charter School Landscape suggests that charter schools continue to have a significant impact on the institution of public education and on the concept of the "real public school."

About the Author:

Sandra Vergari is an assistant professor at the University at Albany, SUNY.

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Sandra Vergari
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