Underlying Policy Assumptions of Charter School Reform: The Multiple Meanings of a Movement
by Amy Stuart Wells, Cynthia Grutzik, Sibyll Carnochan, Julie Slayton & Ash Vasudeva - 1999
Based on interviews with more than 50 policy makers in six states, this article examines the politics of charter school reform and argues that the bi-partisan support for these more autonomous schools masks often opposing viewpoints regarding the purpose of this reform. The authors identify three salient and conflicting themes that emerge from policy makers?explanations of their support for charter schools. The first theme was voiced by policy makers who see charter schools as the beginning of the end of government-run public education and the forefront of a move toward vouchers. The second theme was articulated by policy makers who are committed to a system of public education, but who see charter school reform as a ôlast chance?to save that system. And the third theme arose in interviews with policy makers who see charter schools as one of many, but not necessarily the central, reform that could strengthen the public schools. Thus, the authors write that charter school reform embodies less of a consensus of views about the future of public education than a fragile bargain between political adversaries who all seek to prove they favor educational reform, but for different reasons and toward different ends.
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