Charter schools—born into a hostile environment—are publicly funded schools operated by independent groups under contract with government agencies that provide a valuable alternative to traditional bureaucratically operated school districts. But state laws and policies have stacked the deck against them by limiting the number of charter schools allowed in a state, forbidding for-profit firms from holding charters, forcing them to pay rent out of operating funds, and many other ways. Charter Schools against the Odds explains how these policies can be amended to level the playing field and give charter schools—and the children they serve—a fairer chance to succeed.
The contributors show the ways schools have coped by improvising, relying on contributed time and money, avoiding the most hostile environments, and taking risks when the needs of children required it. They also present valuable ideas for policy changes, explaining how charter schools can be strengthened by a combination of changes in state law, public investments in performance-based school oversight, and private initiatives supported by philanthropy—and they tell why establishing a more level playing field would stimulate even more innovations in years to come. Perhaps most important, they suggest how charter supporters can organize to make changes happen.
Contributors: John E. Chubb, Chester E. Finn Jr., Paul T. Hill, Caroline M. Hoxby, Eric Osberg, Paul E. Peterson, Brad Smith, Nat Torinus