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Across the developing world over the past two decades, low-fee private schools have opened their doors and generated controversy. Advocates argue that these schools fill a void created by state failure; deliver better education by making operators dependent on parental satisfaction; and catalyze government-run schools to improve through competition. Opponents contend such schools typically cannot accommodate children with learning disabilities; charge more than many poor families can afford, even though fees may seem nominal; and lack the accountability necessary to curb venal conduct. In “Low-Fee Private Schools in India: The Emerging Fault Lines,” Tamo Chattopadhay and Maya Roy illuminate this controversy by focusing on central challenges.
In “England Confronts the Limits of School Autonomy,” Helen F. Ladd and Edward B. Fiske provide a detailed analysis of the evolution of school choice in England and address the obstacles in the way of full implementation of Conservative Party ambitions as well as its likely drawbacks. The result is a rich depiction of dramatic change and a cautionary statement about the impact of full school independence on community input and student interests.
How foundations coalesce and collaborate in particular parts of the country provides telling detail about education policy and its necessary conditions. In "Converging on Choice: The Inter-State Flow of Foundation Dollars to Charter School Organizations," Joseph J. Ferrare and Renee Setari examine this dynamic and in the process reveal unmistakable patterns of coordination and influence.
In “Perceptions of Prestige: A Comparative Analysis of School Online Media Marketing,” Sarah Butler Jessen and Catherine DiMartino provide a detailed assessment of the marketing tools increasingly employed by CMOs to win over philanthropists and politicians as well as parents.
In “The Effect of Charter Competition on Unionized District Revenues and Resource Allocation,” Jason B. Cook finds that charter competition has driven down local funding by depressing valuations of residential property and has led school districts to redirect revenue from instructional expenditures (in particular, teacher salaries) to facility improvements. Cook complements these two important findings with thorough explanations.
In “Proprietary Law Schools and the Marketization of Access to Justice,” Riaz Tejani explores the evolution of a for-profit institution pseudonymously titled New Delta School of Law. Tejani, a professor of legal studies at the University of Illinois, finds that New Delta weds a strategy of emancipatory marketing with a bottom-line concentration on profits: New Delta, on the one hand, aggressively markets itself to low-income students as a path to prosperity and recognition and, on the other, generates outsized returns for its private equity investors. To win respect as well as accreditation, Tejani writes, New Delta appointed former executives of the American Bar Association to its board; to keep students from transferring to more reputable law schools after their first year, New Delta radically revised the standard 1L curriculum of Contracts, Property, Torts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Legal Research and Writing to make transferring nearly impossible; to silence dissent, New Delta fired professors critical of these reforms and replaced them with visiting professors.
In "Vouchers Come to Louisiana," Amber Peterson, an official with the Louisiana Department of Education who recently completed a master's degree in education policy at Teachers College, provides a concise, balanced assessment of the state's voucher program. Peterson explains the evolution of the program, eligibility requirements for both students and schools, distribution of participating private schools throughout the state, outreach efforts by the state, barriers to enrollment, and problems with school assessment.
With steep behavioral and academic expectations, charter schools employing the philosophy of "No Excuses" have been praised and faulted: praised for bringing scholastic order to many disadvantaged communities and sending thousands of underprivileged students to college; faulted for enrolling a lower proportion of boys, English-language learners, and students with special needs than neighboring schools (and thus potentially increasing the pedagogical challenges facing those neighboring schools).
In "Theory versus Reality in Charter Schools in Colombia," D. Brent Edwards Jr. and Hilary Hartley go beyond assessing academic outcomes to examine the process of authorization, evaluation, and enrollment to determine the degree of accountability and choice. Edwards and Hartley conclude that choice has been limited by inadequate supply, in turn curtailed by insufficient funding necessary for new Concession Schools to meet government standards; and that accountability has been compromised by the absence of a clear and common set of criteria.
In "Tiptoeing Around Private Schools in the Global Partnership for Education," Francine Menashy explores the evolution of private delivery of K-12 education in the developing world, summarizes the current debate, and assesses the difficulty opposing groups have had in finding common ground. Menashy accomplishes this task by focusing on the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a collaborative effort of philanthropic foundations, donor and recipient governments, multilateral organizations, and private companies. Launched by the World Bank in 2002 as the Education For All Fast Track Initiative (FTI), the organization was rebranded in 2011 as the GPE and is now involved in 59 developing nations.
With "The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment," Sean P. Corcoran and Jennifer L. Jennings fill this void. In examining 11 years of enrollment data for schools across the United States, Corcoran and Jennings find that charter schools enroll more girls than boys, that this divide has widened over time, and that the difference is more pronounced, in particular, at the secondary level.
This paper by Amita Chudgar and Benjamin Creed examines whether disparities in access to private schools diminish in villages with greater availability of private schools. In India the authors note that female students and students from the most disadvantaged families have historically had the least access to private schools. To examine this question, the authors analyze data from the Indian Human Development Survey I (2004-5) of 41,554 rural Indian households and 1,503 villages.
While charter schools are often thought of as a single entity, they actually take three distinct forms: "standalone" or "mom and pop" schools, which are independently operated to serve a local community; for-profit charter schools, which are operated by education management organizations (EMO); not-for-profit schools, which are operated by charter management organizations (CMO). These distinctions are important in that each form operates under different principles and serves students in different ways. In this paper Rand Quinn, Megan Tompkins-Stange and Debra Meyerson argue that charitable foundations have focused their giving almost exclusively on CMOs. Thus, the goal of this paper is to explore the role that foundations have played in the rapid growth of CMOs, and their influence on the CMO form itself.
One of the most important questions for policymakers considering the merits of school choice programs is whether students in school choice program outperform their traditional public school counterparts. This question, however, has proven difficult to answer because the type of student who exercises choice may be fundamentally different than the type of student who does not. As such, researchers employ econometric techniques to control for observable differences between students across school sectors. Any remaining differences in achievement are therefore assumed to be attributable to the school choice program itself.