Charters & Choice

Why haven't charter schools taken hold in suburban areas in most states? In this report, Pushpam Jain takes a close look at three states with high proportions of charter schools in the suburbs to see how they managed to introduce charter schools, and then compares them to one state with only a few charter schools to see what is blocking the spread of charters there. His conclusion: if a state sets up a system for authorizing charter schools where the only authorizing body doesn't want charter schools, there won't be many charter schools!

Charter schools grant significant autonomy to their principals, but do their principals make decisions that would not be possible in ordinary schools? Are they creating schools that are truly different from (and potentially better than) regular district schools? For this report, Bill Triant conducted extended interviews with eight charter school principals in Massachusetts on five dimensions of school operations (teacher hiring, budgetary control, instruction and curriculum, organizational design, and accountability) to shed light on how they use their autonomy. He finds that when charter school principals are given the opportunity to innovate, they do so.

When schools are held accountable for results and freed from red tape governing personnel decisions, they take advantage of their freedom by adopting innovative strategies for hiring and rewarding teachers, according to this new report by economists Michael Podgursky and Dale Ballou. This study is based on a survey administered to a random sample of 132 public charter schools that have been operating for at least three years.

How much government aid do parochial schools and their students actually receive? Connell finds that public aid flows to church-affiliated schools through many channels, though amounts vary greatly from state to state. This report is especially timely in light of the Supreme Court's important decision upholding government aid to religious schools.

Minnesota was the first state to embrace many important education reforms, from statewide open enrollment to charter schools to tax credits for parents paying certain education expenses. This report, written by Dr. Mitchell Pearlstein, President of the Minneapolis-based Center of the American Experiment, tells the stories behind Minnesota's unique policy experiences.? What lay behind Minnesota's worthy innovations? Who was responsible for the bad ideas? Mitch's short answer: governors were behind most of the proposals that expanded education choice, while the flawed policies emerged from the state's education bureaucracy.

Nappi tells the engaging story of how Princeton parents tried to change "the system" from within but had to resort to starting a charter school in order to raise academic standards.

Louis Chandler, professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, determines how widespread progressive and traditional practices are in public, Catholic, and independent schools in the fairly typical state of Ohio. This report the results of his survey of 336 elementary schools that was conducted in the Buckeye State early in 1999.

This book is a guide to ten of today's best-known school designs. It is meant for parents, teachers, school board members, philanthropists, civic leaders and other "consumers" who must evaluate which, if any, of these models they want to pursue.

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