Steve Young

"You are smarter than you think you are," was the lesson Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young had drilled into him by English teacher Charles Reich.

"Steve was usually quiet during the first half of class, absorbing the commentary," Mr. Reich recalls of the legendary quarterback. "Then, as if he were surveying an NFL defense before taking the snap from center, he would synthesize the ideas and take the discussion to a higher level of discovery."

Behind Every Famous Person is a Fabulous Teacher.

Charter Schools

What’s it all about?
What does it mean for you?
Arguments in Favor
Arguments Against
FYI: Further Reading

What’s it all about?

  • Charter schools are schools that receive public funding but are also freed from some of the traditional regulations of most other public schools in order to achieve different educational goals, as put forth by each school’s individual charter.
  • Admission to charter schools is mostly through a lottery system.
  • What is the difference between charter schools and magnet schools?
    Charter schools receive public funding, but they have their own board of directors, staff, curriculum, and so on. Magnet schools also receive public funding, but they are operated through the local school system and are subject to the same criteria as every other public school within that district. Also, magnet schools may require an application, while charter schools admit strictly through a lottery process. The difference between a magnet school and a traditional public school is that magnet schools, similar also to charter schools, adhere to a specific education philosophy that they carry out in a more focused setting.

What does it mean for you?

      • Charter schools are currently found in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

      Arguments in Favor:

          • Charter schools force other schools to improve their performance in order to remain competitive and in operation.

          Arguments Against:

              • Because traditional public schools are losing students to charter schools, they are also receiving fewer resources and less funding.

              FYI: Further Reading

                  • EdWeek has a summary of research on its website that shows conflicting outcomes of charter schools. It is an unbiased article that clearly cites where the authors did their research. These citations can also be accessed online.
                  • Supporting Charter Schools is the official website from the U.S. Department of Education. They provide several reports about the federal policy relating to the topic of charter schools.
                  • US Charter Schools is an extremely informative website, providing not only a background of charter schools, but also individual states’ policies on the issue. They also include information on how to start a charter school and a bibliography for further reading.
                  • The Center for Education Reform focuses a section of its website on the charter school issue. It lists statistics about charter school performance and compares charter school laws across the states.
                  • The American Federation of Teachers is clear in its support of charter schools as long as they uphold democratic values and are accessible and accountable to every family. The AFT also lists some requirements on their website of the type of charter school they are in favor of.
                  • The National Education Association writes about their stance on charter schools here. They are still slightly skeptical of the movement and have listed some requirements they consider necessary to maintain a successful charter school.
                  • Education Sector has posted a chapter from a book titled A Balanced Look at American Charter Schools in 2005 on its website. It looks at what issues arise once a charter school closes. It is a slightly negative account.
                  • Rethinking Schools, a publication that explores and encourages school reform, published a book, Keeping the Promise?: The Debate Over Charter Schools, in 2008 about the successes and failures of the charter school movement. It has essays from multiple authors that focus on specific school districts around the country and clearly explains why some of the different types of charter schools work and some do not. The book can be purchased from the Rethinking Schools website.