Thursday, April 10

BEFORE THE RIGHT SEIZED THE CHARTER SCHOOL IDEA

RICHARD D. KAHLENBERG, EDUCATION WEEK Twenty years ago this month, in a landmark address to the National Press Club in Washington, American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker first proposed the creation of "charter schools"-publicly funded institutions that would be given greater flexibility to experiment with new ways of educating students. At the time, some conservative education reformers opposed the idea, saying we already knew what worked in education. Today, the positions are reversed: Conservatives largely embrace charters, while teachers'unions are mostly opposed. How did the notion of charter schools evolve over 20 years? And might a return to Al Shanker's original idea improve the educational and political fortunes of the charter school movement?

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