Charter Schools, Education Vouchers, and School Choice

Websites

Trends and Issues: School Choice -- An article that provides useful background and an overview of proposals and perspectives.

Recent Articles in Education Week About School Choice -- a good overview statement and lots of articles and links.

Coverage of Charter Schools in Education Week -- a good collection  of news items and resources.

Charter Schools -- a good overview essay in Education Week that includes good links to research reports in the bibliography.

Coverage of the Voucher Topic in Education Week -- links to recent articles in Education Week about school vouchers.

A Recent Overview Article about Vouchers in Education Week -- a good up-to-date summary on the topic of school vouchers.

Can Competition Really Improve Schools? -- an article that presents both sides of the debate over school choice, including recent evidence that raises questions.

Not Waiting for Superman -- a website devoted to countering many of the arguments made in the film, "Waiting for Superman," which advocates for the development of more charter schools and more school choice as vehicles for public school reform -- the site includes important information and perspective not presented (or misrepresented) in the film.

The Myth of Charter Schools -- a review of the film "Waiting for Superman" by Diane Ravitch, the once ultra conservative education historian and policy expert who has experienced a substantial about face.

No Longer "Waiting for Superman" -- an article critical of the film, "Waiting for Superman," a documentary that advocates for the development of more charter schools and more school choice as vehicles for public school reform.

Education Profiteering: Wall Street's Next Big Thing -- an article that argues Wall Steet's growing involvement in the charter school movement is much more about profit than it is about philanthropy. 

Supersized Dollars Drive "Waiting for Superman" Agenda -- an article about the funding behind the film and who stands to make millions participating in the charter school movement. 

Diane Ravitch Interview: The Death and Life of the Great American School System -- an interview with well known conservative scholar Diane Ravitch, who was an Assistant Secretary of Education under Pres. George H.W. Bush -- about her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, in which she does an about face and criticizes No Child Left Behind and its emphasis on standardized testing, school choice, vouchers and charter schools. These are all ideas Ravitch has previously championed.

The Evaluation of Charter School Impacts -- a 2010 study of 36 charter middle schools across 15 states, conducted by the U.S. government, that found: "On average, charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional public schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress."

The National Study of Charter Management Organization Effectiveness -- a 2012 study of 40 large charter-school management organizations (CMOs), which are organizations that establish and operate multiple charter schools.  The CMO's studied run 292 charter schools in 14 states.  Findings of the study were mixed with some CMO's outperforming and others significantly underperforming regular public schools in their area (e.g., with regard to academic performance and graduation and college admission rates).  The study also found that CMOs in the study served a smaller share of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency than their comparison public schools.

America's Private Public Schools -- a 2010 study that reports there are 2,800 selective, "elite" public schools nationally that serve virtually no poor students -- and 79 of these are charter schools.

Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards -- a 2010 report by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA that argues many charter schools contribute to greater segregation not integration, and, thus, they need more regulation in accordance with civil rights objectives.

Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States -- a 2009 study done by researchers at Stanford University that reports, among other things, that only 17% of charter schools in the states studied significantly outperformed their district counterparts.

National Charter School Research Project -- a project sponsored by The Center On Reinventing Schools, an organization supportive of the development of effective charter schools.

Equity Overlooked: Charter Schools and Civil Rights Policies -- a national study from 2009 that reports that the racial composition of charter schools reinforces segregation more than integration.

Create Charter Schools That Reduce Segregation -- an excellent 2009 article that offers overview and review of much of the charter school research -- includes links to a number of good studies.

Informing the Debate -- a 2009 Harvard/MIT study that compares the performance of students in Boston's charter, pilot, and traditional schools. While some charter schools do better than the city's regular public schools, some do not.

Why School Choice Fails -- This article looks at the negative effects of school choice on middle class and lower income families. It also notes the negative effect of school choice on the schools and neighborhoods that these families live in.

Chicago Charter Schools Produce Wildly Uneven Results on State Tests -- This article examines charter school programs in Chicago. It finds inconsistent test results that do not surpass the district averages in mainstream Chicago public schools. In fact, many of Chicago’s charter schools fall below city and state standards of education.  

Indiana Vouchers Prompt Thousands to Change Schools -- an August 2011 article about how a state voucher program in Indiana has led to large numbers of public school students transferring to Catholic schools.

Rhetoric Versus Reality: What We know and What We Need to Know about Vouchers and Charter Schools -- a 2007 update of a 2001 book published by the Rand Foundation in support of vouchers and charter schools -- the entire book is available here free, online.

Failed Promises: Assessing Charter Schools in the Twin Cities -- a 2008 study that found that students in Minneapolis/St. Paul charter schools either did less well than similar students in public schools or the same as those students.

Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools -- a 2011 article that raises serious questions about the quality and business practices of online charter schools, which often generate very large profits for their parent companies while failing to produce student achievement that meets national and state standards, and all with public tax dollars.

Florida Charter Schools: Big Money, Little Oversight -- a 2011 article about the charter school explosion in Florida and the often unethical business practices of some of the companies running these schools as they pursue profit using public tax dollars.  "In many instances, the educational mission of the school clashes with the profit-making mission of the management company."

Study Shows Better Scores for Charter Schools -- a 2009 study of New York City Charter Schools, which compared charter school students with students who had applied to those schools but by lottery had not gotten in, found that the charter school students scored better on a number of standardized tests.

Charter School Performance in New York City -- a study done by a research group at Standford University that reports: 51% of New York City charter schools produced academic gains in math, while in reading only 30% of NYC charters performed better on average than their local public alternatives.

Guv Quietly Signs School Voucher Bill -- an article from the Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 13, 2007, about the governor of Utah signing legislation to create a statewide voucher system that had it been implemented would have become the most expansive voucher system in the country. Shortly after the governor signed this bill the state electorate voted against a statewide voucher system.

Education Week Article about 2002 Supreme Court Decision Concerning the Use of Vouchers for Religious Schools (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris) -- a 2002 article about the precedent setting decision that ruled school vouchers may be used to send children to private religious schools.

Rethinking Schools' Coverage of School Vouchers-- Rethinking Schools, an education journal opposed to vouchers, offers a number of articles critical of vouchers.

The Prospects for Education Vouchers After the Supreme Court Ruling -- in June 2002, newspapers were full of headlines about how the U.S. Supreme Court had approved vouchers for America’s schools. In fact, the Supreme Court had only considered the legal status of a small voucher program in Ohio, the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program. This report discusses the meaning and significance of the High Court's ruling.

Charter Schools And Race: A Lost Opportunity for Integrated Education -- a 2003 report by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University that documents that "charter schools are largely more segregated than public schools."

Study: No Academic Gains From Vouchers for Black Students -- an article about a study that found no gains for African American students involved in a privately funded voucher program in New York City.

Charter Schools and Inequality: National Disparities in Funding, Teacher Quality, and Student Support -- a 2003 report by researchers from Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a collaborative effort between the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University -- it reports that "charter school educators are failing to acquire federal money to assist students from low-income families, that many teachers in charter schools do not have full credentials, and that quality differs among types of charter schools."

Georgia Ruling Leaves Charters' Fate Uncertain -- a 2011 article discussing a legal case in which the state-level Georgia State Charter School Commission was deemed in conflict with the state constitution which gives control of education to local districts.  The issue is whether the state-level commission can have control over local schools when this is counter to the fact that local school districts are given this control in the Georgia state constitution.

Free Market Policies and Public Education: What Is the Cost of Choice? -- A 1999 article from Phi Delta Kappan that raises good questions about school choice as a way to pursue school reform and improvement.

School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Recent Evidence, Remaining Questions -- a 2008 review of the research which found that, "The best research to date finds relatively small achievement gains for students offered education vouchers, most of which are not statistically different from zero. Further, what little evidence exists regarding the potential for public schools to respond to increased competitive pressure generated by vouchers suggests that one should remain wary that large improvements would result from a more comprehensive voucher system. The evidence from other forms of school choice is also
consistent with this conclusion."

School Vouchers and Students with Disabilities -- a 2003 report by the National Council on Disability about whether vouchers will benefit or harm the education of students with disabilities.

How Do Vouchers Affect Educational And Social Equity and Civil Rights? -- information and perspective raising questions about the impact of vouchers on equity issues, especially as these concern students with disabilities.

Panel Reports Concerns On Special Education Vouchers -- a federal panel raises questions about vouchers because of their likely impact on students with disabilites.

Evaluation of the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program (Cleveland's Voucher Program) -- a 2006 report on a 1998-2004 study of the Cleveland Voucher Program concerning racial and academic performance questions.   Some of the findings include: voucher program students are less likely than their public school peers to be African American; more African American and Latino students leave the program than White students; the majority of voucher program students were already attending parochial schools (before entering the voucher program); students in the voucher program enter the program with higher academic achievement than their peers in public schools; and, there are "no statistically significant differences in overall achievement scores" between voucher students and students who applied for the voucher program lottery but did were not selected.

DC Vouchers: First Year Flaws and Failings -- a critical report about the first year of the school voucher program in the District of Columbia.

Public School Choice: Issues and Concerns for Urban Educators -- a summary discussion of school choice and recommendations for making choice more equitable.

Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools -- This article explores many of the problems with online charter schools. It examines the achievement and retention rates and standards of “for-profit” online schools, as well as issues of funding and financial expenditure.

Being a Charter Doesn't Make School Good or Bad -- this article emphasizes the need for more concrete research and more levelheaded discussion on the Charter School Issue.

Parent Revolution -- The “Parent Revolution” is a movement started by parents who want better public education opportunities for their children.

School Choices-- an organization in favor of choice and vouchers.

Private School Vouchers: Myth vs. Fact -- an article critical of vouchers.

People for the American Way -- perspective of a group opposed to vouchers.

The National Education Association -- perspective of another group opposed to vouchers.

An Article by Stanford Professor, Martin Carnoy -- a critical article.

School Vouchers: The Wrong Choice for Public Education -- a critical article.

American Federation of Teachers -- a critical view of vouchers.

The SEED School-- an interesting charter public school idea in Washington, DC, that involves students living at the school during the week. In both 2004 and 2005 100% of SEED School graduates went to college.

The SAGE Program -- The Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program has been proven to improve student achievement in schools serving low-income communities. It does this through a reduction in class size, longer school hours, collaboration with community organizatins, rigorous curriculum and high standards for teachers. When compared with the use of vouchers, this program produces higher levels of achievement through school reform rather than school choice.

The Preuss School -- a successful charter middle and high school dedicated to providing a rigorous college prep education for motivated low-income students who will become the first in their families to graduate from college -- affiliated with the Univ. of California, San Diego.

Vouchers and Educational Freedom: A Debate -- a debate over whether vouchers would lead to greater freedom of choice or trap private schools in a web of subsidy and regulation that would destroy their independence and quality.

Selling America's Kids -- This report on commercial pressures that students face is useful in understanding what additional commercial pressures might be placed on students from schools that receive funding from corporations that market to children.

Pitfalls of Privatization -- In this article the American Federation of Teachers lists and explains four drawbacks to privatizing education.

You Can Homeschool --  This website provides an introduction for parents who are interested in homeschooling.

National Black Home Educators -- This association offers support and fellowship to families who are exploring the benefits of home schooling.

Home Education Research -- A resources that provides statistics and studies about home education.

Homeschooling Legal Defense -- This association provides legal information about homeschooling.


Books & Articles

Andre-Bechely, L. 2005. Could It Be Otherwise? Parents and the Inequalities of Public School Choice. Routledge.

Arum, R. 1996. Do Private Schools Force Public Schools to Compete? American Sociological Review, 61(1): 29-46.

Bracy, G. 2002. The War Against America's Public Schools: Privatizing Schools, Commercializing Education. Allyn and Bacon.

Brighouse, H. 2000. School Choice and Social Justice. Oxford Univ. Press.

Chubb, J. & Moe, T. 1990. Politics, Markets, and America's Schools. Brookings Institution.

Corwin, R. & Schneider, J. 2005. The School Choice Hoax: Fixing America’s Schools. Praeger.

Dillon, S. 2004. Collapse of 60 Charter School Leaves Californians Scrambling. New York Times, Sept. 17.

Fabricant, M. 2011.  Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education. Teachers College Press.

Fuller, B. & Elmore, R. 1996. Who Chooses? Who Loses? Culture, Institutions, and the Unequal Effects of School Choice. Teachers College Press.

Good, T. & Braden, J. 2000. The Great School Debate: Choice, Vouchers, and Charters. Lawrence Erlbaum.

Goldhaber, D. & Eide, E. 2002. What Do We Know (and Need to Know) about the Impact of School Choice Reforms on Disadvantaged Students? Harvard Educational Review, 72(2): 157-176.

Greene, J. P. et al., 1998. School Choice in Milwaukee: A Randomized Experiment. In P. Peterson and B. Hassel (Eds.) Learning from School Choice. Brookings Institution.

Holme, J. 2002. Buying Homes, Buying Schools: School Choice and the Social Construction of School Quality. Harvard Educational Review, 72(2): 177-205.

Howe, K. & Welner, K. 2002. School Choice and the Pressure to Perform: Deja Vu for Children with Disabilities? Remedial and Special Education, v. 23 (4): 212-221.

Levin, H. 1998. Educational Vouchers: Effectiveness, Choice and Costs. Journal of Policy Analysis & Management, Summer, v.17 n3 p. 373.

Lubienski, C. & Weitzen, P.  2010.  The Charter School Experiment: Expectations, Evidence, and Implications. Harvard Education Press.

Mendez, T. 2004. Can Competition Really Improve Schools? Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 7, p. 12.

Merseth, K. et al. 2009.  Inside Urban Charter Schools: Promising Practices and Strategies in Five High-Performing Schools.  Harvard Education Press.

Miner, B. 2000. No One Really Knows How Children in Milwaukee's Voucher Schools Are Faring. The Nation, June 5, v. 270, p. 23.

Peterson, P. & Campbell, D. (Eds.) 2002. Charters, Vouchers, and Public Education. Brookings Institution Press.

Rethinking Schools. 2000. Selling Out Our Schools. Rethinking Schools.

Rosen, G. 2000. Are School Vouchers Un-American? Commentary, Feb. v109, p. 26.

Rouse, C. 1998. Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 113: 553-602.

Samuels, C. & Reid, K. 2005. Ohio OK's Vouchers for Pupils in Low-Rated Schools. Education Week, July 13.

Schorr, J. 2002. Hard Lessons: The Promise of an Inner City Charter School. Ballantine.

Watkins, W. (Ed.) 2011. The Assault on Public Education: Confronting the Politics of Corporate School Reform. Teachers College Press.

Wells, A. 1993. Time to Choose: America at the Crossroads of School Choice Policy. Hill and Wang.

Wells, A. 2002. Where Charter School Policy Fails: The Problems of Accountability and Equity. Teachers College Press.

Witte, J. 2000. The Market Approach to Education: An Analysis of America’s First Voucher Program. Princeton Univ. Press.


Films & Video

The Bottom Line, 2001 (Stone Lantern Films) -- a documentary about the movement toward vouchers and charter schools that raises questions about the consequences for democratic principles of education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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