By Wayne D. Lewis (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Politics of Parent Choice in Public Education: The Choice Movement in North Carolina and the United States
Charter school reform is a state-level education reform, so the idiosyncrasies of both individual charter schools and the state legislation that authorizes them make it difficult to speak about charter schools as a singular concept. For example, while Arizona’s charter school law is based on the belief that market-like competition should bring about improvement in public schools and places no limits on the number of charter schools that can be authorized in the state or the number of students that can attend charter schools; Mississippi’s law, through 2012, allowed only for the conversion of “chronically underperforming” schools into charters and permitted conversion of only 12 schools statewide with no more than three in a given year.
This is in contrast to private schools that on average enjoy significantly more autonomy in decision-making. Chubb and Moe (1988) note that given private schools’ substantial autonomy, “it is not surprising to find that principals are stronger leaders; have greater control over hiring and firing; and that teachers are more integrally involved in policymaking” (p. 1085). Greater autonomy for charter schools is provided in exchange for increased academic accountability, but accountability frameworks can vary considerably by state (Bracey, 2002; Bulkley, 2005; Hess, 2004).
Further, if most parents whose children were eligible to transfer to higher-performing schools chose to transfer, they would run out of school options pretty quickly since the number of children that qualify for transfers to a higher-performing school under NCLB’s opt out provision greatly exceed the available placements for those students. It was no secret that United States President George W. Bush supported the expansion of choice policies and school options for parents. Every year that he was in office President Bush’s budget proposal included $75 million for a federal Choice Incentive Fund, which would have funded a fivecity pilot school voucher project similar to the DC OSP.