The Charter School Experiment

The Charter School Experiment Expectations, Evidence, and Implications

Edited by Christopher A. Lubienski and Peter C. Weitzel, foreword by Jeffrey R. Henig
Pub. Date: September 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-394-3
paper, 304 Pages
Pub. Date: September 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1-934742-66-2
Price: $33.00

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When charter schools first arrived on the American educational scene, few observers suspected that within two decades thousands of these schools would be established, serving almost a million and a half children across forty states. The widespread popularity of these schools, and of the charter movement itself, speaks to the unique and chronic desire for substantive change in American education. As an innovation in governance, the ultimate goal of the charter movement is to improve learning opportunities for all students—not only those who attend charter schools but also students in public schools that are affected by competition from charters.


One of the most thorough and balanced works on what we have learned about charter schools. Both thoughtful and provocative. — Henry M. Levin, William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, and director, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

The Charter School Experiment is a balanced and scholarly assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of charter schools, which should inform the current policy debate. — Diane Ravitch, research professor of education, New York University and nonresident senior fellow, Brookings Institution

Faith in charter schools is skyrocketing. But as Washington tells states to open more charters, does this politically sexy innovation actually work? When their performance flags, why? How might inventive schools actually challenge the status quo? Squarely addressing these questions, this book arrives at just the right time. A must-read for parents, educators, and reform leaders, not to mention White House staffers. — Bruce Fuller, professor, education and public policy, University of California, Berkeley

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About the Editors

Christopher A. Lubienski is an associate professor of education policy and a fellow at The Forum on the Future of Public Education at the University of Illinois. He is also a fellow with the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research focuses on education policy, reform, and the political economy of education, with a particular concern for issues of equity and access. His recent work examines organizational responses to competitive conditions in local education markets, including geo-spatial analyses of charter schools in post- Katrina New Orleans and a report on innovation in education markets for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. After earning a PhD in education policy and social analysis at Michigan State University, Lubienski held post-doctoral fellowships with the National Academy of Education and the Advanced Studies Fellowship Program at Brown University, and he was recently named a Fulbright Senior Scholar for New Zealand. He has authored both theoretical and empirical journal articles on questions of innovation and achievement in school choice systems, and he is the coeditor of School Choice Policies and Outcomes: Empirical and Philosophical Perspectives (coedited with Walter Feinberg, SUNY Press, 2008).

Peter C. Weitzel is an advanced doctoral student in educational organization and leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studies issues of school choice and urban educational governance. He has been working on issues of school choice for five years, and his research has appeared in Educational Policy, American Journal of Education, and other professional journals. As a graduate student, he has worked with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs, the Dean’s Office in the College of Education at the University of Illinois, and The Forum on the Future of Public Education. His recent school choice research includes a geo-spatial analysis of the post-Katrina New Orleans educational market and a large scale sociological analysis of choosers and nonchoosers. Peter’s studies and research have been recognized with numerous awards and scholarships from the College of Education, including the highest award given to doctoral students. Prior to graduate studies, he was the director of an AmeriCorps program that provided tutoring, character education, service learning, and a range of other services to students in high-needs communities in South Carolina. Peter received a BA in secondary education and English from Washington University in St. Louis in 2001 and an EdM from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008.

Table of Contents (PDF)

"Q&A with Christopher Lubienski and Peter Wietzel" in Harvard Education Letter

E-book available through online booksellers

Other books in Charter Schools

Choices and Challenges

Priscilla Wohlstetter, Joanna Smith, and Caitlin C. Farrell, foreword by Michael W. Kirst

Other books in Charter Schools

The Strategic Management of Charter Schools

Peter Frumkin, Bruno V. Manno, and Nell Edgington, foreword by Frederick M. Hess

Other books in Charter Schools

School Choice and School Improvement

Edited by Mark Berends, Marisa Cannata, and Ellen B. Goldring

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