The Democratic Potential of Charter Schools by Stacey Smith

By Stacey Smith

Seeing that Minnesota enacted the 1st laws in 1991, constitution tuition reform has swept the rustic. even though their stances are tremendously varied, either proponents and rivals of the constitution circulation emphasize its privatizing features. during this ebook Stacy Smith argues that the tendency to stress the privatizing, market-oriented features of constitution reform is overly simplistic. as a result, almost all debate at the subject neglects, or at the least downplays, the democratizing potentials of constitution colleges. She urges others drawn to conserving the «public» nature of public schooling to think about such potentials as equalized and accelerated selection, inclusive selection making, and localized responsibility prior to summarily writing off constitution college reform as antidemocratic.

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How can citizens ensure that decisions are for them, or in their interests? and who constitutes the people? 1 Decision-making processes are fair if they include all affected parties and treat them equally; outcomes are fair if they represent common interests. Thus, normative democratic theory offers principles of equality, the common good, and inclusion with which to evaluate the descriptive definition of democracy as by, for, and of the people. But this normative answer is not clear cut, and its simplicity belies a plethora of underlying social complexities.

But decision making within schools will not necessarily be inclusive. And autonomous school communities might be difficult to hold accountable to public interests. Each of these issues calls for careful attention to the role that charter schools should play in public education reform. Charter school reform raises all sorts of normative questions about plurality, autonomy, and community within the public educational sphere. In order to decide whether we are “for” or “against” charter schools, we need to consider carefully: Is a pluralized sphere of distinct and autonomous school communities something we might want to cultivate?

Notes 1. Peter Cookson, School Choice and The Struggle for the Soul of American Education (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 14. 2. , The Choice Controversy (Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press, 1992); Amy Stuart Wells, Time to Choose: America at the Crossroads of School Choice Policy. (NY: Hill and Wang, 1993); Cookson, School Choice; Jeffrey Henig, Rethinking School Choice: Limits of the Market Metaphor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994); and Bruce Fuller and Richard F. Elmore, eds.

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