University Involvement with Charter Schools: Unique Opportunities for Service and Support
AbstractCharter schools are a controversial, but vibrant, component of the current educational landscape, now serving over 3.1 million students in approximately 6900 schools across the United States. A unique aspect of this movement has been the establishment of alternative authorizers, and specifically universities, to approve and provide oversight to these public schools. Campus leaders and policy makers must consider numerous variables regarding a university’s involvement with charter schools. What are the implications of school choice on university policies and practices? Should universities be “authorizers”, granting charters to schools in direct competition with the traditional public school system? Can universities provide the required “oversight” mandated by the charter school laws, as well as providing “support” for the schools? What opportunities for partnerships and practicum experiences exist? The article provides an overview of issues that arise with public charter schools authorized by universities. With 18 years of experiences as a public university on the forefront of enabling charter legislation and the “sponsorship” of inner-city public charter schools, the authors provide a historical perspective of the role of universities within the school choice movement, including oversight roles and supportive programs within the unique and growing phenomenon of school choice.
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