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THE BOOK OF EDUCATION
This article is from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_schools

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License 

Charter school

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Charter schools)

Charter schools are publicly funded elementary or secondary schools in the United States which have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools, in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each charter school's charter.[1]

The charter school movement in the United States began in 1988, when Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers, called for the reform of the public schools by establishing "charter schools". As originally conceived, the ideal model of a charter school as a legally and financially autonomous public school (no tuition, religious affiliation, or selective student admissions) that would operate much like a private business – free from many state laws and district regulations, and accountable more for student outcomes rather than for processes or inputs (such as Carnegie Units and teacher certification requirements).[2] However, opponents of charter schools suggest that this accountability is rarely exercised, and that the more lax requirements for charter schools result in fewer qualified teachers than at their traditional public counterparts.[3]

Minnesota was the first state to pass a charter school law, in 1991. California was second, in 1992. By 1995 there were 19 states with charter school laws.

There are two principles which guide charter schools. First that they will operate as autonomous public schools. This is effected by gaining waivers from many of the procedural requirements of public schools. Second, that they will use innovative pedagogy. To justify their waivers and autonomy, they are supposed to produce results superior to non-charter schools. Studies have shown that charter schools are rarely closed for poor academic performance.[3]

The rules and structure of charter schools depend on state authorizing legislation, and differ from state to state. A charter school is authorized to function once it has received a charter, a statutorily defined performance contract detailing the school's mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success. The length of time for which charters are granted varies, but most are granted for 3-5 years. Charter schools are meant to be held accountable to their sponsor—a local school board, state education agency, university, or other entity—to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract.

Chartering authorities, authorities which may legally issue such charters, differ from state to state, as do bodies legally entitled to operate under such charters. Often it is the State Board of Education which authorizes charters, as is the case in the State of Arkansas. In other states, local school district may be authorized to issue charters, such as in the State of Colorado. Charter initiating bodies, which intend to operate charter schools, may include local school districts, institutions of higher education, non-profit corporations, and for profit corporations. The States of Michigan and California allow for-profit corporations to operate charter schools. Some educators are concerned that for-profit charter schools are inherently flawed, as they divert part of the funding that in a traditional public school would be spent entirely on education to maintain profits. For-profit charter schools rarely outperform traditional public schools, even when the charter receives higher funding.[4]

Charter school funding is dictated by the state. In many states, charter schools are funded by transfering per-pupil state aid from the school district where the charter school student resides. The Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Part B, Sections 502 - 511 also authorize funding grants for charter schools. Additionally, charter schools may receive funding from private donors or foundations.

Locations of charter schools

Inside the United States

States with (red) and without (black) charter schools
States with (red) and without (black) charter schools

In 1991, Minnesota adopted charter school legislation to expand a longstanding program of public school choice and to stimulate broader system improvements. Since then, the charter concept has spread to 40 states and DC. State laws follow varied sets of key organizing principles based on the Citizens League's recommendations for Minnesota, American Federation of Teachers guidelines, and/or federal charter-school legislation (U.S. Department of Education). Principles govern sponsorship, number of schools, regulatory waivers, degree of fiscal/legal autonomy, and performance expectations.

Current laws have been characterized as either strong or weak. Strong-law states mandate considerable autonomy from local labor-management agreements, allow multiple charter-granting agencies, and allocate a level of funding consistent with the statewide per pupil average. Arizona's 1994 law is the strongest, with multiple charter-granting agencies, freedom from local labor contracts, and large numbers of charters permitted.

40 U.S. states have Charter-school laws. The vast majority of charter schools (more than 70 percent) are found in states with the strongest laws: Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina.[5]

Despite the map, Washington has yet to pass a law to create charter schools.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, over half of the New Orleans schools that are re-opening are doing so as Charter schools.[6]

Outside the United States

New Zealand

Well before American charter schools, New Zealand went far further in granting power to individual schools by abolishing all regional school boards and making each public school independent, with local parent and teacher involvement in decision making.[7] Although not called charter schools, each school does have a charter under which it operates with a board of trustees and has a high degree of autonomy. The main difference, though, is that since all schools have the same status, individual schools don't all have the uniqueness typical of a charter school.

While since 1989 there is also provision for Designated Special Character schools, so far only two have been created. (These are not to be confused with 'state integrated' schools -- mostly Catholic[8], and formerly private -- that are 'integrated' into the public school system, while retaining their proprietor -- which are required to have a 'special character' in their integration agreement with the Crown that would be preserved by the school's continuance[9].)

England and Wales

The United Kingdom established grant-maintained schools in England and Wales in 1988. They allowed individual schools that were independent of the local school authority. When they were abolished in 1998, most turned into foundation schools, which are under their local district authority but still have a high degree of autonomy.

Alberta

About three years after their introduction in the U.S., the Canadian province of Alberta allowed charter schools beginning in 1994. Two years later, ABC Charter Public School (now Westmount Charter School) formed. Alberta charter schools have much in common with their U.S. counterparts. As of 2005 there are only about a dozen charter schools in the province, compared with over 50 school boards, with the largest one alone having over 200 schools. The idea of charter schools initially sparked great debate and is still controversial, but has had limited impact. No other province in Canada has yet followed Alberta's lead.

Overall, charter schools have had much less support outside the U.S., although many of the choices provided by charter schools have long existed elsewhere under different names.

A short documentary about Alberta charter schools can be seen on the Society for Quality Education website.

Results

Early promise

Evidence on the growth and outcomes of this relatively new movement has started to come in. The U.S. Department of Education's First Year Report, part of a four-year national study on charters, is based on interviews of 225 charter schools in 10 states (1997). Charters tend to be small (fewer than 200 students) and represent primarily new schools, though some schools had converted to charter status. Charter schools often tend to exist in urban locations, rather than rural. This study found enormous variation among states. Charter schools tended to be somewhat more racially diverse, and to enroll slightly fewer students with special needs and limited-English-proficient students than the average schools in their state. The most common reasons for founding charters were to pursue an educational vision and gain autonomy.[10]

"Charter schools are havens for children who had bad educational experiences elsewhere," according to a Hudson Institute survey of students, teachers, and parents from fifty charters in ten states. More than 60 percent of the parents said charter schools are better than their children's previous schools in terms of teaching quality, individual attention from teachers, curriculum, discipline, parent involvement, and academic standards. Most teachers reported feeling empowered and professionally fulfilled[11].

Recent Findings

Whether properly done studies support or criticize the effectiveness of charter schools has been debated. Charter schools are not without some controversy and both supporters and critics have cited studies for their side. Additionally, such studies themselves often have both critics and supporters.

A report issued by a pro-charter school group[12], released in July 2005, looks at twenty-six studies that make some attempt to look at change over time in charter school student or school performance. Twelve of these find that overall gains in charter schools were larger than other public schools; four find charter schools’ gains higher in certain significant categories of schools, such as elementary schools, high schools, or schools serving at risk students; six find comparable gains in charter and traditional public schools; and, four find that charter schools’ overall gains lagged behind. The study also looks at whether individual charter schools improve their performance with age (e.g. after overcoming start-up challenges). Of these, five of seven studies find that as charter schools mature, they improve. The other two find no significant differences between older and younger charter schools.

In August 2005, a national report of charter school finance[13] found that across 16 states and the District of Columbia—which collectively enroll 84 percent of the nation’s one million charter school students—charter schools receive about 22 percent less in per-pupil public funding, or $1,800, than the district schools that surround them. For a typical charter school of 250 students, that amounts to about $450,000 per year. The funding gap is wider in most of twenty-seven urban school districts studied, where it amounts to $2,200 per student. In cities like San Diego and Atlanta, charters receive 40% less than traditional public schools. The fiscal inequity is most severe in South Carolina, California, Ohio, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Missouri. The primary driver of the district-charter funding gap is charter schools’ lack of access to local and capital funding.

On August 16, 2004, the Department of Education released the first national comparison of test scores among children in charter schools and regular public schools as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress of 2003[14]. These results, from a study of 6000 4th grade pupils in 2003, were reported, most prominently by the New York Times, it showed that charter school students perform worse in both mathematics and reading than students in regular public schools. These results were the most comprehensive so far, studying such factors as race, neighborhood, and income.[citation needed] The study shows that charter school students scored lower than traditional public school students in virtually all categories. The study's conclusions have been criticized for ignoring the demographic differences between the charter and conventional public schools compared. Rod Paige, the U.S. Secretary of Education, issued a statement saying (among other things) that, "according to the authors of the data the Times cites, differences between charter and regular public schools in achievement test scores vanish when examined by race or ethnicity."[15] Additionally, a number of prominent research experts called into questioned the usefulness of the findings and the interpretation of the data.[16] Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby also criticized the report and the sample data, saying "An analysis of charter schools that is statistically meaningful requires larger numbers of students."[17]

At a December 2004 workshop held by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) to discuss the findings of the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) pilot study on charter schools, government officials urged charter opponents and proponents alike to use caution in making "sweeping" conclusions from the NAEP report. NAGB Chairman Darvin Winick called attention to what he called the "fine print" of the study - that is, "one snapshot in time cannot determine the achievement of students."

A study by the Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby[17] was released in December 2004 and included 99 percent of fourth grade charter school students. (By comparison, the NAEP/AFT study mentioned above selected only about 3 percent of charter students in the fourth and eight grades.[17][18]) The study compared these students "to the schools that their students would most likely otherwise attend: the nearest regular public school with a similar racial composition."[17] It reported that the students in charter schools performed better in both math and reading. It also reported that the longer the charter school had been in operation, the more favorably its students compared. This study has its critics as well, however. One criticism is that the "assessment of school outcomes is based on the share of students who are proficient at reading or math but not the average test score of the students. That’s like knowing the poverty rate but not the average income of a community -- useful but incomplete."[19]

On August 22, 2006, the U.S. Department of Education released a report which found that students in charter schools performed several points worse than students in traditional public schools in both reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test.[20] Critics of the study argue that its demographic controls are highly unreliable, as percentage of students receiving free lunches does not correlate well to poverty levels, and some charter schools don't offer free lunches at all, skewing their apparent demographics towards higher income levels than actually occur.[21]

Other Problems

Nearly all charter schools face implementation obstacles, but newly created schools are most vulnerable. Some charter advocates claim that new charters tend to be plagued by resource limitations, particularly inadequate startup funds. Yet charter schools also attract large amounts of interest and money from private foundations such as the Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation.

Although charter advocates recommend the schools control all per-pupil funds, charter advocates claim that their schools rarely receive as much funding as other public schools. But in reality, this is not necessarily the case in the complex world of school funding. Charter schools in California were guaranteed a set amount of district funding that in some districts amounted to $800 per student per year more than non-charter (traditional public schools) received until a new law was passed that took effect in fall 2006. Charter advocates claim that their schools generally lack access to funding for facilities and special program funds distributed on a district basis[22]. Sometimes private businesses and foundations, such as the Ameritech Corporation in Michigan and the Annenburg Fund in California, provide support[23]. Congress and the President allocated $80 million to support charter-school activities in fiscal year 1998, up from $51 million in 1997.

Charters sometimes face opposition from local boards, state education agencies, and unions[24]. Many educators are concerned that charter schools might siphon off badly needed funds for regular schools, as well as students. In addition, public-school advocates assert that charter schools are designed to compete with public schools in a destructive and harmful manner rather than work in harmony with them. The American Federation of Teachers urges that charter schools adopt high standards, hire only certified teachers, and maintain teachers' collective-bargaining rights. Also, some charters feel they face unwieldy regulatory barriers.

According to Bierlein and Bateman, the odds are stacked against charter schools. Charter-school critics dispute this. There may be too few strong-law states to make a significant difference. Educators who are motivated enough to create and manage charter schools could easily be burnt out by a process that demands increased accountability while providing little professional assistance.

Policy and practice

As more states start charter schools, there is increasing speculation about upcoming legislation. In an innovation-diffusion study surveying education policy experts in fifty states, Michael Mintrom and Sandra Vergari (1997) found that charter legislation is more likely considered in states with poor test scores, Republican legislative control, and proximity to other states with charter schools. Legislative enthusiasm, gubernatorial support, interactions with national authorities, and use of permissive charter-law models increase the chances for adopting what they consider stronger laws. He feels union support and restrictive models lead to adoption of what he considers weaker laws.

The threat of vouchers, wavering support for public education, and bipartisan support for charters has led some unions to start charters themselves. Several AFT chapters, such as those in Houston and Dallas, have themselves started charters. The National Education Association has allocated $1.5 million to help members start charter schools. Charters offer teachers a brand of empowerment, employee ownership, and governance that might be enhanced by union assistance (Nathan).

Over two dozen private management companies are scrambling to increase their 10 percent share of a "more hospitable and entrepreneurial market" (Stecklow 1997). Boston-based Advantage Schools Inc., a corporation specializing in for-profit schooling, has contracted to run charter schools in New Jersey, Arizona, and North Carolina. The Education Development Corporation was planning in the summer of 1997 to manage nine nonsectarian charter schools in Michigan, using cost-effective measures employed in Christian schools.

Professor Frank Smith, of Teachers College, Columbia University, sees the charter-school movement as a chance to involve entire communities in redesigning all schools and converting them to "client-centered, learning cultures" (1997). He favors the Advocacy Center Design process used by state-appointed Superintendent Laval Wilson to transform four failing New Jersey schools. Building stronger communities via newly designed institutions may prove more productive than charters' typical "free-the-teacher-and-parent" approach.

President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act also promotes charter schools. It is as yet unclear whether recent test results will affect the enacting of future legislation. A Pennsylvania legislator who voted to create charter schools, State Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, said that "Charter schools offer increased flexibility to parents and administrators, but at a cost of reduced job security to school personnel. The evidence to date shows that the higher turnover of staff undermines school performance more than it enhances it, and that the problems of urban education are far too great for enhanced managerial authority to solve in the absence of far greater resources of staff, technology, and state of the art buildings."

Charter school popularity

Some members of the public are dissatisfied with educational quality and school district bureaucracies.[23]. Today's charter-school initiatives are rooted in the educational reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, from state mandates to improve instruction, to school-based management, school restructuring, and private/public-choice initiatives.

The charter approach uses market principles while insisting that schools be nonsectarian and democratic. Many people, such as former President Bill Clinton, see charter schools, with their emphasis on autonomy and accountability, as a workable political compromise and an alternative to vouchers. Others, such as President George W. Bush, see charter schools as a way to improve schools without antagonizing the teachers union. Bush has made charter schools a major part of his No Child Left Behind Act. A recent report by the AFT, a noted charter-school opponent, has shown charter schools not faring as well as public schools on state administered standardized testing[24], though the report has been heavily criticized.[25][26] Other charter school opponents have examined the competing claims and suggest that most students in charter schools perform the same or worse than their traditional public school counterparts on standardized tests.[27]

Criticism of charter schools

The basic concept of charter schools is that they exercise increased autonomy in return for greater accountability. They are accountable for both academic results and fiscal practices to several groups, including the sponsor that grants them, the parents who choose them, and the public that funds them. Charter schools can theoretically be closed for failing to meet the terms set forth in their charter, but in practice, this can be difficult, divisive and controversial. One example was the 2003 revocation of the charter for a school called Urban Pioneer in the San Francisco Unified School District, which first came under scrutiny when two students died on a school wilderness outing.[28] An auditor's report found that the school was in financial disarray[29] and posted the lowest [30] test scores of any school in the district except those serving entirely non-English-speakers. It was also accused of academic fraud, graduating students with far fewer than the required credits.[28]

In addition, even greater concerns arise when, as in Michigan, many charter schools are run for profit. Many educators worry that education will suffer when funding is split between profit and educational spending, rather than going completely toward teaching as is done in traditional public schools. Studies have already shown many instances of charter schools cutting programs or refusing to educate students with special needs so as to maintain profitability.[31] Charter schools in Michigan, where for-profit charters are common, but per-pupil funding is significantly lower than at traditional public schools, have performed at a lower level than their traditional public school counterparts.[32]

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.nea.org/charter/index.html
  2. ^ Lori A Mulholland, Charter schools: The Reform and the Research, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Policy Brief, March 1996, p.1
  3. ^ a b http://www.epinet.org/books/charter_school/charterschoolfacts.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=886
  5. ^ Allen, Jeanne, and Marcucio, Anna Varghese Charter School Laws Across the States, Center for Education Reform, Washington, D.C., 2004 http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=section&pSectionID=14&cSectionID=122
  6. ^ Allen, Jeanne, and Marcucio, Anna Varghese Charting a New Course, The Wall Street Journal Aug 24th, 2006 http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115638176750244050-c9tcWeTmCrIAG10IXb5FZyikobw_20060922.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top
  7. ^ http://www.fcpp.org/main/publication_detail.php?PubID=176
  8. ^ http://www.catholic.org.nz/nzceo/media/resources/publications/catholic-heritage-brochure.pdf
  9. ^ http://www.legislation.govt.nz/libraries/contents/om_isapi.dll?clientID=3690096234&hitsperheading=on&infobase=pal_statutes.nfo&record=%7b3AAAD062%7d&softpage=DOC
  10. ^ U.S. Department of Education. A Study on Charter Schools: First Year Report. Washington, D.C.: Author, 1997. 74 pages. http://eric.uoregon.edu/search_find/ericdb/detail.php?AC=ED409620
  11. ^ Vanourek, Gregg and others. Charter Schools as Seen by Those Who Know Them Best: Students, Teachers, and Parents. Washington, D.C.: Hudson Institute, 1997. 12 pages. http://eric.uoregon.edu/search_find/ericdb/detail.php?AC=ED409650
  12. ^ http://www.charterschoolleadershipcouncil.org/PDF/paperupdate.pdf
  13. ^ http://www.edexcellence.net/institute/charterfinance/
  14. ^ America's Charter Schools: Results From the NAEP 2003 Pilot Study http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/studies/2005456.pdf
  15. ^ http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2004/08/08172004.html
  16. ^ http://www.edreform.com/_upload/NewYorkTimesAd.pdf Advertisement in the New York Times], August 2004
  17. ^ a b c d Achievement in Charter Schools and Regular Public Schools in the United States: Understanding the Differences, Hoxby, C., December 2004, http://post.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/hoxby/papers/hoxbycharter_dec.pdf
  18. ^ http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2004/09/charter_schools.html
  19. ^ Schoolhouse Schlock: Conservatives flip-flop on standards for charter school research. http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=8638
  20. ^ U.S. Department of Education. A Closer Look at Charter Schools Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2006. http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard//pdf/studies/2006460.pdf
  21. ^ No Free Lunch - Study Wrongly Discredits Charter Success: Flawed Research by National Center for Education Statistics Should be Viewed with Great Skepticism, Center for Education Reform, August 21, 2006. http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?emailclick&fd=19215&massemailid=751&fuseAction=document&documentID=2459
  22. ^ Bierlein, Louann, and Bateman, Mark. Charter Schools v. the Status Quo: Which Will Succeed?, International Journal of Educational Reform 5, 2 (April 1996): 159–68. http://eric.uoregon.edu/search_find/ericdb/detail.php?AC=EJ525971
  23. ^ a b Jenkins, John, and Jeffrey L. Dow. A Primer on Charter Schools. International Journal of Educational Reform, 5, 2 (April 1996): 224–27. http://eric.uoregon.edu/search_find/ericdb/detail.php?AC=EJ525978
  24. ^ a b American Federation of Teachers. Charter Schools: Do They Measure Up? Washington, D.C.: Author, 1996. 68 pages.
  25. ^ http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005492
  26. ^ http://www.ncsc.info/newsletter/August_September_2002/AFT_Response.htm
  27. ^ "The Charter School Dust-Up" by Martin Carnoy, Rebecca Jacobsen, Lawrence Mishel, and Richard Rothstein
  28. ^ a b http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/03/06/MN14786
  29. ^ http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/08/26/BA148795.DTL
  30. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/reports/API/2003Base_Sch.asp?SchCode=3830452&DistCode=68478&AllCds=38684783830452
  31. ^ William C. Symonds, For-Profit Schools, Business Week, 7 February 2000.
  32. ^ http://www.wmich.edu/evalctr/charter/aera_2005_paper_charter_school_laws.pdf

References

  • Budde, Ray. "The Evolution of the Charter Concept." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 78, 1 (September 1996): 72–73. EJ 530 653.
  • Hassel, Bryan. "Charter School Achievement: What We Know." Washington, DC: Charter School Leadership Council. July 2005.
  • Jurgen Herbst. School Choice and School Governance: A Historical Study of the United States and Germany. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. ISBN.
  • Mintrom, Michael, and Sandra Vergari. "Political Factors Shaping Charter School Laws." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, March 24, 1997). 46 pages. ED 407 708.
  • Nathan, Joe. Charter Schools: Creating Hope and Opportunity for American Education. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1996. 249 pages. ED 410 657.
  • Smith, Frank L. "Guidance for the Charter Bound." The School Administrator 54#7 (August 1997): 18–22. EJ 548 963.


 

External links

  • US Charter Schools by state
  • Society for Quality Education Canadian site focusing on the positive consequences of the introduction of market-like forces in education including charter schools, parental choice, education tax credits, and vouchers
  • Charter School Weekly News Connection.
  • Charter Schools. Eric Digest. The original Wikipedia article listed here is based on the text at this public domain site.
  • National Association of Charter School Authorizers
  • National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
  • The Charter School Policy Institute
  • Boston Preparatory Charter Public School
  • The Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter Public School
  • South Bronx Classical Charter School
  • Updates on New Charter School Research and Resources.
  • Perspectives on Charter Schools: A Review for Parents. ERIC Digest.
  • Charter Schools: An Approach for Rural Education? ERIC Digest.
  • Arguments for and against the creation of charter schools.
  • Charter School Market Share
  • Public Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities. ERIC Digest.
  • Center for School Change, at the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
  • The Center for Education Reform
  • US Charter Schools by state
  • NEA Charter School Page
  • Charter Friends National Network charter school on-line resources and links
  • State profiles—charter schools.
  • Nation's Charter Schools Lagging Behind, U.S. Test Scores Reveal. New York Times
  • KIPP: Knowledge Is Power Program website of the KIPP Foundation
  • Education Evolving Education Evolving
  • MACS Minnesota Association of Charter Schools
  • MCSSEP Minnesota Charter Schools Special Education Project
  • Massachusetts Charter Public School Association - "Myths and realities About Massachusetts Charter Public Schools."
  • Wyoming Charter Schools Initiative
  • A Charter School in Tampa, Florida
  • Edison Schools
  • Ralph J Bunche | Albuquerque Charter School
  • Mississippi Teacher Corps Focus Paper on charter Schools
  • A Charter School Tale (also articles and links)
  • Three Rivers Charter School in Oregon
  • West Town Academy
  • The story of a charter school in Oakland
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