Gregg Vanourek, Charter School Leadership Council
May 2005

The CSLC and charter school expert Gregg Vanourek have produced a terrific guide to the charter movement that should find a home on the bookshelf of any education reformer. Its purpose isn't to provide new research or data but rather to offer one-stop-shopping for those seeking the best available information about the charter school world. To offer just a sampling, it provides data on the number of charters (3,400), their enrollment (300,000), waiting lists (39 percent have them, averaging 135 students each), and locations (more than half are in three states, California, Arizona, and Florida). One learns that 10 percent of these schools are managed by EMOs, perhaps as many as 14 percent use the Core Knowledge method, and 16 percent were converted from existing public schools. Twenty-seven states have caps on charters; about half of traditional schools have started new programs in response to charter competition; and half of all authorizers work with just a single charter school. Of paramount interest to some charter followers, it summarizes the research on academic achievement (leaning heavily on Bryan Hassel's meta-analysis), noting the mixed but "encouraging" results. There's much more and you'd be well served by downloading a copy. Though it doesn't offer a fancy layout, the brief explanations interspersed with useful charts and graphs make it an easy read. It also lays bare the gaps in current research by suggesting issues for future study. Perhaps most notably, it stands in stark contrast to the inane debates persisting in such places as The American Prospect (click here, for example). Point being: charters are here, get used to them, and let's understand what they are and do. It's a big PDF, but definitely worth the download time. You can find it here.

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