What's Public About Charter Schools?: Lessons Learned About Choice and Accountability

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Corwin Press, Mar 19, 2002 - Education - 242 pages
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This book contains evidence about charter schools that can provide important data on evaluating this new public-private hybrid and its success at serving the core purpose of public education. The book focuses on charter schools in Michigan, which is regarded as having one of the most permissive charter laws in the country. The first three chapters provide a theoretical framework for, and the descriptive context of, the charter-school reform in Michigan. Chapter 4 analyzes charter-school finance in Michigan. The remainder of the book seeks to evaluate the "public-ness" of Michigan charter schools according to the definitions introduced in the first chapter. The last chapter summarizes evidence and provides an answer to the question, "What's public about charter schools?" These schools appear to be doing a reasonably good job of creating communities of teachers with commonly held educational viewpoints, but may be doing so at the expense of equitable access to the schools and student-achievement gains. Three appendices contain key historical developments in Michigan that affected public and private schooling, background and documentation for analysis of student achievement, and a list of education-management organizations and schools they operated in 2000-01. (Contains 157 references.) (RT)
  

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Contents

Charter Schools and Privatization
1
What Are Charter Schools? A Crash Course in the Charter Concept
3
Accountability to Whom? The New Politics of Education
9
Whats Public About Charter Schools?
12
Formalist and Functionalist Views of Publicness
14
Looking Ahead
16
Shifting From Public to Private Historical and Political Backdrop
18
The PublicPrivate Pendulum in Michigan
21
Impacts on Educational Practice
124
The Diffusion of Charter School Innovations and Practices
129
Conclusion
131
Student Achievement
134
Assessing Charter School Impacts in Michigan
136
A Summary of the Findings
139
EMOs and Student Achievement
143
Conclusion
145

The Emergence of Michigans Charter School Law
23
Conclusion
26
The Charter School Reform in Michigan
28
The Growth and Development of Michigan Charter Schools
34
Conclusion
40
Charter School Finance
43
How Michigan Funds Charter Schools
44
General Fund Expenditures
45
Case Studies of Charter School and School District Revenues and Expenditures
48
The Cost Advantage of Charter Schools
62
Conclusion
67
Choice and Access
72
Distribution by Grade
73
RacialEthnic Composition of the Charter Schools
74
Income Family Structure and Other Characteristics
77
Special Educationor the Lack of Itin Michigan Charter Schools
85
Reasons for Choosing Charter Schools
90
Conclusion
93
Teachers Characteristics and Working Conditions
98
Teacher Demographics
99
Certification and Qualification of Teachers
101
Reasons to Seek Employment at a Charter School
105
Working Conditions and Levels of Satisfaction
107
Conclusion
115
Innovation and Impact
117
Impact on Surrounding School Districts
118
Customer Satisfaction
148
Nontest Indicators of Academic Performance
149
Satisfaction With and Accomplishment of Mission
155
Satisfaction With Curriculum and Instruction
156
Satisfaction With Facilities and Available Resources
160
The Relationship Between Market and Performance Accountability
162
Summary and Conclusion
166
The Effects of Education Management Organizations
170
The Growth of EMO Involvement in Charter Schools
171
Roles and Types of EMOs
175
Ownership of Charter Schools and the Problem of Bundling
178
Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?
181
Strategies and Consequences
185
Summary and Conclusion
188
Lessons in Choice and Accountability
194
Whats Public About Michigan Charter Schools? A Review of the Evidence
195
Are Charter Schools a Good Public Investment? The Question of Efficiency
203
Diagnoses and Prescriptions for Charter School Laws
205
The Future of Choice and Accountability
213
Key Historical Developments in Michigan That Have Affected the Public and Private Nature of Schooling
215
Background and Supporting Documentation for Analysis of Student Achievement
217
List of EMOs and the Number of Schools They Operated in 200001
219
References
220
Index
230
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Gary Miron has a diverse background in the field of education. He worked as a public school teacher in Michigan in the mid-1980s. Later he worked as an educational researcher and university instructor in the field of education. Currently, he is Principal Research Associate at Western Michigan University's Evaluation Center. There, he has completed or is working on a variety of school reform evaluations including evaluations of charter schools in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois, and Cleveland. In Connecticut and Cleveland, he has been involved in providing training and technical assistance to charter schools in terms of helping them develop and implement accountability plans and self-evaluations. He has also conducted a study of student achievement gains in schools operated by Edison Schools Inc. Before joining The Evaluation Center, Dr. Miron worked at Stockholm University where he had completed his graduate studies. While in Sweden he conducted a study on the national voucher reform in the early 1990s and later took part in a study of school restructuring in Europe. He has researched and written on such topics as educational evaluation, special needs education, educational planning and policy, multimethod research, charter schools, and school reform.

Christopher Nelson is Senior Research Associate at Western Michigan University’s Evaluation Center, where he works on large-scale evaluations of state charter school laws. He is project manager for evaluations in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and the city of Cleveland, and has contributed to evaluation reports on charter schools in Michigan and Connecticut. Before joining The Evaluation Center, Dr. Nelson was on the faculty of the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University, where he taught courses on evaluation methodology, policy analysis, and public organizations. While in Pittsburgh, Nelson worked on a number of regional education policy studies,including a large-scale assessment of work force readiness among high school students, and a study of early-grade literacy. In addition, he played a leading role in the development of an education policy indicator system that is still in use today. Nelson holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.A. summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

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