Renzulli and Roscigno 2007

Renzulli and Roscigno 2007 - feature article linda a....

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31 Contexts, Vol. 6, Numbers 1, pps 31-36. ISSN 1536-5042, electronic ISSN 1537-6052. © 2007 by the American Sociological Association. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintInfo.asp. DOI: ctx.2007.6.1 charter schools and the public good feature article linda a. renzulli and vincent j. roscigno Do charter schools work? The best studies suggest they are doing no better than traditional public schools—and are increas- ing racial segregation. A ccording to the U.S Department of Education, “No Child Left Behind is designed to change the culture of America’s schools by closing the achievement gap, offering more flexibility, giving parents more options, and teaching students based on what works.” Charter schools—a recent innovation in U.S. education—are one of the most visible developments aimed at meeting these goals. Although they preceded the 2002 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, charter schools are now supported politically and financially through NCLB. Charter schools are public schools set up and administered outside the traditional bureaucratic con- straints of local school boards, with the goal of creating choice, autonomy, and accountability. Unlike regular public schools, charter schools are devel- oped and managed by individuals, groups of parents, com- munity members, teachers, or education-management organizations. In exchange for their independence from most state and local regulations (except those related to health, safety, and nondiscrimination), they must uphold their contracts with the local or state school board or risk being closed. Each provides its own guidelines for estab- lishing rules and procedures, including curriculum, subject to evaluation by the state in which it resides. Charter schools are among the most rapidly growing educational institutions in the United States today. No charter schools existed before 1990, but such schools are now operating in 40 states and the District of Columbia. According to the Center for Educational Reform, 3,977 charter schools are now educating more than a million students. Charter schools have received bipartisan support and media accolades. This, however, is surprising. The true aca- demic value of the educational choices that charter schools provide to students, as well as their broader implications for the traditional system of public education, are simply unknown—a fact that became obvious in November 2004, when voters in the state of Washington rejected—for the third time—legislation allowing the creation of charter schools. Driven by an alliance of parents, teachers, and teacher unions against sponsorship by powerful figures such as Bill Gates, this rejection went squarely against a decade- long trend. Reflecting on Washington’s rejection, a state Democrat told the New York Times , “Charter schools will
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2010 for the course SOC 1305 taught by Professor Mueller during the Fall '08 term at Baylor.

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Renzulli and Roscigno 2007 - feature article linda a....

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