Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2009 Issue »

    Promise and Peril

    Charter Schools, Urban School Reform, and the Obama Administration

    Charles Payne and Tim Knowles
    In this essay, Charles Payne and Tim Knowles argue that given President Obama’s support of charter schools, it is time for educators and policymakers to closely consider both the possibilities and the limitations of these schools in the context of urban school reform. The authors discuss the unique flexibility of charter schools—namely in staffing, time, budgetary autonomy, governance, and protection from district policies—as a significant source of their potential effectiveness. However, they also note the major challenges these schools face, as evidenced by variability in achievement results, sustainability, and quality of instruction. The authors suggest that these strengths and challenges must be considered together, and that the administration must focus on the elements of effective schooling for all children. Drawing upon this kind of evidence, the authors conclude, will lead to a more grounded and less partisan debate about urban education.

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    Charles Payne studies urban education and school reform, social inequality, social change, and modern African American history. His recent books include Teach Freedom: The African American Tradition of Education For Liberation (2008), coedited with Carol Strickland, and So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools (2008).

    Tim Knowles is the Lewis-Sebring Director at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI). His areas of expertise include charter schools, school reform, and teacher development. Prior to coming to Chicago, Knowles served as deputy superintendent for teaching and learning for Boston Public Schools and was the founding director of Teach For America in New York City.
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    Summer 2009 Issue


    Editors’ Introduction
    Note to Educators
    Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete
    Jeffrey M. R. Duncan-Andrade
    A Dialogue
    Our Selves, Our Students, and Obama
    Jennifer McLaughlin and Kim Kelly
    President Obama and Education
    The Possibility for Dramatic Improvements in Teaching and Learning
    Linda Darling-Hammond
    Promise and Peril
    Charter Schools, Urban School Reform, and the Obama Administration
    Charles Payne and Tim Knowles
    Reclaiming Our Freedom to Teach
    Education Reform in the Obama Era
    Megan Behrent
    Obama’s Dilemma
    Postpartisan Politics and the Crisis of American Education
    Henry A. Giroux
    Second-Class Integration
    A Historical Perspective for a Contemporary Agenda
    Vanessa Siddle Walker
    Equity and Empathy
    Toward Racial and Educational Achievement in the Obama Era
    Prudence L. Carter
    It Wasn’t Easy to Get Here
    Kathleen Mayse
    Obama, Where Art Thou?
    Hoping for Change in U.S. Education Policy
    Wayne Au
    Praise Song for Teachers
    A Call to Action
    Ariane White
    Educating Latino Immigrant Students in the Twenty-First Century
    Principles for the Obama Administration
    Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
    Education for Everyday People
    Obstacles and Opportunities Facing the Obama Administration
    Gloria Ladson-Billings
    An Insurrectionary Generation
    Young People, Poverty, Education, and Obama
    Jay Gillen
    An Earned Insurgency
    Quality Education as a Constitutional Right
    Robert P. Moses
    Barack Obama and the Fight for Public Education
    William Ayers
    Coda: The Slow Fuse of Change
    Obama, the Schools, Imagination, and Convergence
    Maxine Greene
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