Charter School Analysis

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Mike Schmidt

Statement of Issue: Since the first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1992 (Minnesota Dept. of Education Website), America has seen charter schools move from a fringe educational alternative to an accepted and useful tool in public education. It is clear that charter schools are continuing to grow in popularity and student population, even with conflicting evidence about their effectiveness. This review will evaluate the necessity for strong educational leadership, a clear educational charter with a defined vision and financial backing, and built-in mechanisms and criteria for accountability in establishing an effective charter school.

History of Issue: Charter schools are generally attributed to an idea by Ray Budde in the 1970’s when he wrote a paper entitled “Education by Charter.” His suggestions centered around reorganizing the traditional schools in such a way that a group of teachers would receive educational “charters” directly from the district’s school board. At the time, his ideas seemed too cumbersome to address an issue many thought was minor. People were more inclined to tweak or update the existing system than try to begin something new from the ground up. In the 1980’s, the “Nation At Risk” report was released, changing the perception of our existing public educational model and creating an environment where people were more open to changes and alternatives to the existing educational model.
Al Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, began to build on Budde’s ideas suggesting that new schools be created within existing schools. From there, a study committee of the Citizens League of Minnesota expanded the ideas further, suggesting schools could be authorized by state educational departments and local school boards. Minnesota went on to pass a law permitting the establishment of charter schools. This was soon followed by California in 1992. The next year, six more states passed



Bibliography: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). The Condition of Education 2012.

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