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The Origin and Development of Charter School Initiative (Research Paper Sample)


This paper invites you to pick a movement or any educational variable, and seek out its historical origins, explain its evolution, and intellectually grapple with the social and political drivers that moved it from an idea to a policy and/or movement.

Charter Schools
The charter school movement has faced many controversies. Since their debut in the United States, charter school initiative has aided in developing and further elevating the education quality and access for many students. However, these schools of choice are perceived as a threat to the autonomy of the education sector and the stakeholders involved. Charter schools are publicly funded schools which are granted more autonomy over curriculum choices, compared to traditional public k-12 schools (Gawlik 784). Introduced in 1992, the City Academy Charter School in St. Paul Minnesota, became the first of its kind to operate in the United States and admitted 35 inner-city high school dropouts (Murphy et al. 5).The charter movement was then created to push for the adoption of a more efficient education program, its effort supported by the claimed success of the new charter school initiative. Moreover, the traditional k-12 schools educational establishment was seen to be in crisis and plagued with unresponsive bureaucracy. The aim was to make the schools innovative and diminish the direct control by the local school board; consequently, making them more responsive to the needs of the clients. The movement has spread today, with more than 6,800 charted public schools registered in the 2015-2016 school year, and an estimated 2.9 million students enrolled in them (Murphy et al. 5).
The debate over charter schools has been influenced by subjective ideologies, and the effect the reforms have had on the students or the progress of the education sector. Notably, some assessments tend to give biased reviews that rarely have an impact on reducing of the gap in education knowledge. This paper seeks to clarify the position of charter schools in society by tracking their progress objectively through the last two decades to their current state. Factors that contributed to the development and progress will be addressed, in conjunction with significant policies and key figures that influenced the growth of charter schools in the United States of America. Contributions made by charter schools in the American education will also be assessed, and consequently take a stand on the debate regarding the necessity and contribution of charter schools in the country.
The Origin and Development of Charter School Initiative
Charter school initiatives arose from the educational reforms of the1980s and 1990s through the mandate of the states to improve instruction, and restructure the schools to serve fundamental roles in society (Murphy et al. 5). A debate on the low education quality being offered in the capitalist-democratic state served as a significant contributor to the emergence of charter schools. The new notion of charter schools and the high expectations people had on the new education program exposed the widespread problems in American public schools, both actual and fabricated claims, with the charter school initiative generated to address these deficiencies. Earlier initiatives with almost similar patterns had however failed to take root, allowing the reformists to build on them and device a new model (Murphy et al. 8).
Three earlier models, in particular, contributed to the development of the charter schools as an attempt to alter the bureaucratic delivery of education in America. The first of these is the innovative schools model created through the input and collaboration of the teacher, parents and the community, allowing the teacher to implement adaptive learning depending on unique demographic educational needs. The second empowerment model was the magnet school, which emerged in the mid-1970s. The model targeted school districts providing significant additional funds to the specified schools, serving as incentives to start specialized instructional methods or themes and attract parents and students (Orfield 3). Unlike in the innovative school model, initiatives in magnet schools were solely conducted by the school district administrators meaning very little input if any was received from the parents or the community (Perez 48). The third model designed by school districts was the alternative schools, tailored to serve targeted populations that were underrepresented within their zoned schools.
Literature and response on the three previous models provided the basics for the creation of charter schools, with other key elements added to make it better than the other forms of nontraditional education. Ray Budde is credited with coining the term charter, which was later introduced into the American vernacular in the late 1980s by Al Shanker. At the time, he was the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Through education by Charter, Ray Budde defined a model of improving instruction in schools through the restructuring of school districts and by changing the school organization. The prototype described by Ray Budde consisted of a written charter that addressed concerns between the school districts and the teachers with the aim of establishing innovative instructional programs. The educational contracts provided autonomy to the teachers, giving them the authority to explore and develop new ways of teaching and educating the children through the aid of public funds and minimal state intervention (Kretchmar 750). The instructional programs emerging from these contracts were expected to serve as the basis for restructuring the school districts.
Ray Budde’s education by charter proposal was built on four logic dynamics. One aspect was the complete redefinition of the roles of the teachers and administrators in schools, giving them more responsibilities in their duties. The operations of the school board changed in this new model. The third aspect of it was the provision of continuing curriculum renewal and improvements to cater for new trends and needs of the students, to ensure all emergent details are contained in the teaching package and production of an all-rounded student (Murphy et al. 7). Additionally, the proposed education pattern called for cooperation amongst all parties involved in the education sector to identify the knowledge base of the new school curriculum. Under this system, teachers were the central players, with the principal, curriculum director, or a superintendent being an active participant of the charter team provided they regularly taught on their respective fields (Huerta 245). The parents and the community then joined the teachers to form a discussion group at the initial phase of educational charter development. However, unlike the case today, the parents and community served as mere advisors to the system, without having any tangible decision making power in the Budde charter school model.
Budde’s idea, in existence since 1975, was introduced to the world by Albert Shanker in March 1988, describing the idea during a National Press Club speech. On July the same year, theAFT held a convention, the 70th since its inception, overwhelmingly endorsing the ideology; consequently increasing the attention the topic had generated. The teacher-driven charter shool model provided the answer to the ailing public school status in the country and could further the aims of the second reform movement. Essentially, the model targeted the 80% student population not adequately catered for by the traditional schooling system. With the key characteristics of the movementtrusted in the professional experience and supported by teachers, Shanker believed that the charter schools would provide a mechanism of policy that regularly focused on making innovation an ongoing and integral part of the school community.
Shanker and the American Federation of Teachers saw a means of circumventing the education system, which at the time seemed impervious to change. Frustrated educators quickly advocated for the system, regardless of its immaturity as it appeared as the only answer to rectifying the deteriorating state of public learning institutions, and gaining further support due to success of similar program in other regions like Australia. A program was likened to task force groups in private companies established to spearhead sale and monitoring of new product lines or services. District joint school board union panels were established to assist in overcoming hurdles in implementing the new system, as Shanker extended Budde’s ideology of charter academic departments and program to cater to entire schools.
Elements of the Charter School Movement
The charter school movement started as an alternative approach for a small group of people unimpressed by the state of the public schools, creating a process to facilitate broader reforms in the public education sector. Over the years, the movement has matured from a small group to a major force in the educational reform (Karanovich 208). The charter school movement consisted of various institutions aimed at improving public education, and also pushed for reduced government control over the operations of public schools.
The institutions promoted adaptive teaching strategies that allowed teachers and other stakeholders to be directly involved in learning to sustain the progress of the schools. The measure served as a great idea for the development of all individuals involved in the public education sector, as many believed the government was the cause of a majority of the problems encountered in the schools (Oxley 524). It was, therefore, possible for reforms to take place, with the only means of salvaging the education standards being the elimination of the government’s direct influence on decisions made in the learning institutions.
The charter school movement was developed through prior knowledge obtained from previous reforms, with five strands forming the elementary components of the system. The school choice was the ideal resource that led to the construction of the ...
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