By Lars Johnson
Education Evolving’s Ted Kolderie was featured last weekend in a series of National Public Radio (NPR) stories about the direction the charter schools movement has taken since the first chartered school opened in 1992. On September 7, Saint Paul’s City Academy--the first chartered school in the nation--turns 20.
In the radio report Kolderie discusses how, over the last 20 years, the conversation around chartering has shifted. In recent years chartering has been seen less as a process of innovation and more as a particular kind of school, operated by a particular kind of organization. For chartering to reach its full potential, it should be considered the research and development sector for public education. The reports were filed by NPR education reporter Claudio Sanchez. We believe he is correct in concluding that chartering is “at a crossroads.” How will chartering be seen in the decades to come?
We believe there is widespread lack of understanding, even among those who follow education policy closely, about chartering, its purpose, what it has produced, and its role moving forward. Later this fall Education Evolving will release a paper covering the history of chartering since its beginning, clarifying its purpose and explaining its role in the country's effort to change and improve K-12 education.
The NPR stories also mention the new book, Zero Chance of Passage, by former Minnesota State Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge, who authored the first charter school law in the country. The book details the history of chartering’s legislative beginning.
We encourage you to listen to the NPR stories and let us know what you think:
- Part 1: From A Single Charter School, A Movement Grows
- Part 2: What’s a Charter School If Not A Game Changer?
Note: Much of the audio for the story was collected during the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools meeting, which was held in Minneapolis this summer.