EXPECT MIRACLES: Charter Schools and the Politics of Hope and Despair

Peter Cookson, Author, Kristina Berger, Author, Kristina Berger, Joint Author . Westview $26 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8133-6631-9

At last—a book about the charter school movement that cuts through the myths and claims of the contestants in this volatile public policy issue to lay out the parameters of the debate in a clear and, for the most part, dispassionate way. Do students learn better and score higher in innovative, small schools? Are charter school parents more involved in their children's education than their public school counterparts? Most important, have charter schools lived up to their promise of becoming "examples of educational innovation that would encourage public school educators to raise their standards, become more imaginative, and generally revitalize public education?" Yes and no. Sociologists Cookson and Berger present the data in a balanced and comprehensive way and allow readers to draw their own conclusions. The authors carefully analyze the findings on charter schools and educational deregulation in terms of the promises of American democracy: that all children are entitled to equal educational opportunities, that public education must be free and universally available to all children, that educational advancement based on family wealth must cease and that the curricula of schools should reflect our core democratic values. This objective yet principled treatise finds the charter school movement deficient in virtually all of these and other categories. Cookson and Berger's hopeful book is essential reading for legislators, school board members, parents and teachers who want to make an informed decision about charter schools and the future of American education. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/10/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-8133-4156-9
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