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Selected Publications

Charter Schools in California, Michigan and Arizona: An Alternative Framework for Policy Analysis

Janelle T. Scott and Margaret E. Barber. 2002. National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Occassional Paper No. 40. 


This paper uses the charter schools legislation of three states, California, Arizona and Michigan, as a lens to understand the policy values embodied in school choice reforms. We question the prevailing rubrics of the Center for Education Reform and the American Federation of Teachers. Briefly stated, the former ranks laws as either “strong” or “weak” and the latter identifies laws as either “good” or “bad.” We examine the legislation in light of an alternative framework. Specifically, we consider how the laws incorporate choice, productive efficiency, equity, and social cohesion. We also consider what policy tools, such as finance, information, and regulation are provided in the legislation to achieve these values. We find this framework more comprehensive than current, normative frameworks that pervade charter school research. Though we emphasize the need for continued research at the local charter school level to understand the connection between legislation and implementation, this framework enables observers to move beyond value-laden descriptors of charter school laws. 

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