Think Twice: Rural Charters Reviewed
Multiple problems limit usefulness
EAST LANSING, Mich. (Mar. 13, 2014) – A recent document from Bellwether Education Partners argues for expanding charter schools into rurally populated states. It recommends opening the rural charter market and removing barriers to expansion. An academic review released today finds it to be inadequate for policy consideration.
A New Frontier: Utilizing Charter School Spending to Strengthen Rural Education was written by Andrew Smarick and reviewed by Ohio University professor Craig Howley, who specializes in rural education and school size. The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) produced the review with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The New Frontier highlights several state-level policy recommendations and offers five directives to policymakers: (1) replace barriers to growth with smart, flexible policies; (2) provide flexibility from teacher certification rules; (3) provide fair funding; (4) make facilities accessible; and (5) leverage technology.
In his review, Howley finds that the document provides no articulated rationale for its recommendations. Citing missing research and slanted representations, Howley declares it "useless as a source of objective information."
The document employed very little peer-reviewed research and no reference was found to any peer-reviewed empirical research in rural education.
Howley notes that the methods employed by New Frontier are entirely rhetorical, based on unstated assumptions that charter schools provide positive outcomes in all regards. Also, Howley finds the document "obscures rather than illuminates consideration of rural education, making it more harmful than helpful."
In summarizing the usefulness of New Frontier, Howley says, "The document is useful only to those who seek to expand charter schools into rural areas."
Find this Think Twice Review on the Great Lakes Center website:
Find A New Frontier: Utilizing Charter School Spending to Strengthen Rural Education on the web:
Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publication. The project is made possible with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.
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