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What's Public About Charter Schools?

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

May 2002 | 256 pages | Corwin
This book provides an in-depth examination of educational policy surrounding charter schools, primarily in Michigan.Michigan has one of the oldest and most robust charter school laws in the country, providing important insights into how a large scale and national charter school movement might affect public education.This book offers important insights to educators in states with no charter school law, in states considering strengthening existing laws, and national policy-makers seeking to influence state-level education reform.

Outline of the Book


About the Authors
With Christopher Lubienski
Chapter 1: Charter Schools and Privatization
What Are Chater Schools? A Crash Course in the Charter Concept

Accountability to Whom? The New Politics of Education

What's Public About Charter Schools?

Formalist and Functionalist Views of Public-ness

Chapter 2: Shifting From Public to Private: Historical and Political Backdrop
Charter Schools in the National and International Context

The Public-Private Pendulum in Michigan

The Emergence of Michigan's Charter School Law

Chapter 3: The Charter School Reform in Michigan
The Charter School Concept in Michigan

The Growth and Development of Michigan Charter Schools

With F. Howard Nelson
Chapter 4: Charter School Finance
How Michigan Funds Charter Schools

General Fund Expenditures

Case Studies of Charter School and School District Revenues and Expenditures

The Cost Advantage of Charter Schools

Chapter 5: Choice and Access
Distribution by Grade

Racial/Ethnic Composition of the Charter Schools

Income, Family Structure, and Other Characteristics

Special Education--or the Lack of It--in Michigan Charter Schools

Beyond Demographics: Reasons for Choosing Charter Schools

Chapter 6: Teachers' Characteristics and Working Conditions
Teacher Demographics

Certification and Qualification of Teachers

Reasons to Seek Employment at a Charter School

Working Conditions and Levels of Satisfaction

Chapter 7: Innovation and Impact
Impact on Surrounding School Districts

Impacts on Educational Practice

The Diffusion of Charter School Innovations and Practices

Chapter 8: Student Achievement
Michigan in National Context

Assessing Charter School Impacts in Michigan

A Summary of the Findings

EMOs and Student Achievement

Chapter 9: Customer Satisfaction
Nontest Indicators of Academic Performance

Satisfaction With and Accomplishment of Mission

Satisfaction With Curriculum and Instruction

Satisfaction With Facilities and Available Resources

The Relationship Between Market and Performance Accountability

Chapter 10: The Effects of Education Management Organizations
The Growth of EMO Involvement in Charter Schools

Roles and Types of EMOs

Ownership of Charter Schools and the Problem of Bundling

Control and Governance of Charter Schools: Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?

Operating Charter Schools for Profit: Strategies and Consequences

Chapter 11: Lessons in Choice and Accountability
What's Public About Michigan Charter Schools? A Review of the Evidence

Are Charter Schools a Good Public Investment? The Question of Efficiency

Diagnoses and Prescriptions for Charter School Laws

The Future of Choice and Accountability

Appendix A: Key Historical Developments in Michigan That Have Affected the Public and Private Nature of Schooling
Appendix B: Background and Supporting Documentation for Analysis of Student Achievement
Appendix C: List of EMOs and the Number of Schools They Operated in 2000-01

"What’s Public About Charter Schools? provides valuable insights for charter school operators and advocates, school administrators, community members, politicians, and policy makers looking for data upon which to base decision making. Miron and Nelson have lived school reform evaluation for years, and their experience shows in this thoughtful and useful book."

Kyle L. Peck, Charter School Founder and Professor of Education
Pennsylvania State University

"This is the most comprehensive book that I have seen on charter schools. Both the descriptive data and the analysis are an important contribution." 

Henry M. Levin, Director
National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education

"Miron and Nelson make a significant contribution to the debate about school restructuring reforms provide a strikingly balanced look at the charter school movement in action. Their conclusions and recommendations offer important lessons to school reformers, researchers, and policymakers both in the United States and internationally."

Priscilla Wohlstetter, Director
Center on Educational Governance, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California

"This book covers essential material and will be of interest for classes on education policy and educational administration and will command an audience among school reformers and policy analysts."

William L. Boyd, Distinguished Professor of Education
Pennsylvania State University

"What's Public About Charter Schools? by Gary Miron and Christopher Nelson deserves to be cited repeatedly as the debate about charter schools continues. The researchers' careful and balanced analysis of the situation in Michigan has much to say about the charter school movement across the country and leads to important cautions about whether and how the movement should proceed. These recommendations provide concrete and practical solutions for improving charter schools by addressing some of the shortcoming that the authors have uncovered."

Education Review, October 2002

"The greatest strength of Miron and Nelson’s volume is that . . . it provides the most comprehensive overview of how a school choice program works."

Educational Researcher, March 2003

What’s Public About Charter Schools? offers an interesting and comprehensive study of a significant charter sector. Policy-makers looking for ideas about what to do an not do would be wise to read What’s Public About Charter Schools.”

On-line journal, The National Charter School Clearinghouse
July 2003

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