Andrea Gabor is the author of the new book, “After the Education Wars,” a penetrating account of the mistakes of the reform movement.
She writes here about the wrong turns taken by charter enthusiasts. How did a movement intended to unleash grassroots energy turn into an industry dominated by national corporate chains?
“When Albert Shanker, the legendary teachers’ union leader, promoted the idea of charter schools 30 years ago, he was hoping to create flexibility from the constraints of education bureaucracies and union contracts so teachers and communities could experiment and innovate.
“In the years since the first charter-school law was passed in Minnesota, in 1991, the charter movement has strayed far from Shanker’s original vision. Instead of community-based, educator-driven innovation, charters have grown into an industry dominated by like-minded management organizations that sometimes control hundreds of schools — some nationwide.
“These charter organizations have proliferated with the help of…
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