Hopes, Fears and Reality: A Balanced Look at American Charter Schools in 2009

Eric Ulas

Robin Lake, Ed.
Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington at Bothell
January 2010

This paper is the fifth of an annual series from the National Charter Research Project and provides a timely look at critical challenges facing charter sector (including a chapter by Fordham’s Terry Ryan). This series is best known for its yearly update on the charter landscape. 

Noteworthy is the considerable growth charters have experienced – charter enrollment nationwide grew from approximately 900,000 to more than 1,400,000 between 2004 to 2009 (an increase of 55 percent). Ryan’s chapter on the importance of strong school leaders is particularly relevant in light of the current administration’s efforts to turn around 5,000 of the country’s lowest-performing schools. He highlights the clear need for strong leadership in turnaround efforts, based on Fordham’s experience as a charter authorizer working to turn around a failing charter school in Dayton. Another interesting chapter looks into the relationship between unions and charters. The AFT represents about 80 charters nationwide, and while this is a relatively small number, it raises many interesting questions on the future relationship between charters and unions. The report also highlights the dilemma faced by high performing charters as they face a gap between test score achievement and college readiness.

Well worth the read as it covers a broad depth of topics as charter schools mature. You can find it here.

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