Charter Schools In Perspective is an effort to enlighten and improve the conversation about charter schools in the United States. The Charter Schools In Perspective series provides an analysis of current research; suggests important questions for policymakers and journalists to ask; and offers discussion material to inform voters and help communities hold civil, productive dialogue on education issues. Charter Schools In Perspective is a joint project of the Spencer Foundation and Public Agenda, both nonpartisan organizations.
Charter School In Perspective grew out of the Spencer Foundation's Disciplined Dialogues Project, which seeks to bring an innovative, rigorous and disciplined process of deliberation and communication to key education issues where controversy and politicization exist and where policy is being created quickly. While research alone cannot provide clear direction about decisions to be made, when properly deliberated, the Disciplined Dialogues Project seeks to create conditions where research can contribute to a deeper understanding and the creation of better ideas.
The first convening for the Disciplined Dialogues project brought together an expert group of scholars, including social scientists, historians, philosophers, and journalists who focus on education topics, who sought to address charter schools.
The results of the Disciplined Dialogues convening on charter schools informed the types of resources Public Agenda and the Spencer Foundation developed for In Perspective. Our hope is that these resources contribute to a healthier, more productive dialogue on charter schools.
Materials from the first Disciplined Dialogues convening, which addressed issues related to charter schools, are available for you to download, edit and use. Click here to find out more about Disciplined Dialogues and download these materials.
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"'Charter Schools In Perspective: 10 Questions for Journalists' is an excellent primer. Even for education reporters who may not know much about charters, the resource triggers several story ideas and questions to ask."
- Paul Fain, Senior Reporter, Inside Higher Ed
"Our education debates are rife with impassioned declarations and sweeping claims. That can make it hard to find agreement on where things stand, how we can do better, and what solutions are worth trying. The Spencer Foundation and Public Agenda have provided a signal service in promoting civil discussion, clarifying what we do and don’t know, and respectfully acknowledging differing views. This is a resource that parents, educators, community leaders, and public officials will find valuable.”
- Frederick M. Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
"If you want a neutral, well-informed guide through the ideologically-charged battlefield of charter schools, this is the place to go. This clearly laid-out summary of all things that ought to be known about charter schools is without peer in the country."
- Jack Jennings, Founder and former President/CEO, Center on Education Policy
"This extensive and accessible overview of charter school research is a terrific resource for the public and policymakers. Of course, research itself won't resolve the many cultural and political debates around the role of charters in an increasingly diverse democratic society (particularly, given the lack of definitive, empirical evidence that charters improve student outcomes). Fortunately, the tools included here--particularly the discussion starter--support thoughtful and transparent deliberation about "what we know." This is much needed as decision makers and communities confront thorny values questions about choice, competition, and privatization as means for ensuring all the right to high-quality education and tackle equally tough normative and political challenges of making that right real in traditional public schools."
- Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor in Education Equity, Emeritus, UCLA; President, American Education Research Association
"Charter Schools in Perspective is a refreshing and much-needed contribution to a more informed and civil dialogue, which is based on a growing body of research. Parents, educators, communities, lawmakers, researchers, and journalists will all benefit from the wealth of information and data contained within its pages."
- Greg Richmond, President & CEO, National Association of Charter School Authorizers