Charter Schools

December 20, 2002 • Volume 12, Issue 44
Will they improve or hurt public education?
By Charles S. Clark

Introduction

Fourth-grader Ashley Tropez volunteers to answer at Christel House Academy, one of four charter schools that opened this fall in Indianapolis, Ind. Since the first charter school opened 10 years ago in Minnesota, some 2,700 have been launched.  (AP Photo/John Harrell)
Fourth-grader Ashley Tropez volunteers to answer at Christel House Academy, one of four charter schools that opened this fall in Indianapolis, Ind. Since the first charter school opened 10 years ago in Minnesota, some 2,700 have been launched. (AP Photo/John Harrell)

A decade after the birth of the charter school movement, reform activists and mainstream educators disagree over whether these experimental public schools are a promising innovation or a damaging distraction. The nation's nearly 2,700 charter schools operate in 39 states, enjoying freedom from many traditional regulations. But they must deliver concrete results in a specified period or risk being shut down. Charters vary as much in their instructional approaches as they do in their genesis, facilities, quality and political constituencies. Yet, the evidence remains inconclusive as to whether they are boosting student achievement. The evolving movement remains divided between critics, who see it as the first step in dismembering America's public education system, and those who see it as the system's last best hope.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Religion and Schools
Dec. 20, 2002  Charter Schools
Feb. 15, 2002  School Vouchers Showdown
May 04, 2001  Faith-Based Initiatives
Jan. 12, 2001  Religion in Schools
Apr. 09, 1999  School Vouchers
Jul. 18, 1997  School Choice Debate
Feb. 18, 1994  Religion in Schools
May 10, 1991  School Choice
Aug. 16, 1983  School Prayer
Apr. 20, 1979  Private School Resurgence
Sep. 02, 1967  Private Schooling
Sep. 12, 1947  Religion in the Schools
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Private Schools and Home Schooling