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Published in Print: August 5, 1998, as More Parents Want Charters,Ed. Dept. Study Concludes

More Parents Want Charters,Ed. Dept. Study Concludes

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Parent demand for charter schools has grown, but the schools continue to face such obstacles as a lack of start-up funds and inadequate facilities, a report from the U.S. Department of Education says.

Nationwide, the department counted 693 charters running in 23 states and the District of Columbia in the 1997-98 school year, taking into account school closures. The school tally jumps to about 780 when counting as separate schools Arizona's multibranch charter schools. In the 1997-98 school year, 279 new charter schools opened their doors, according to the report.

Fewer than one in 20 charter schools has closed voluntarily, merged with others, or been shut down, the report says.

For More Information

"The Charter  School Review Process: A Guide for Chartering Entities" is available free by calling (877) 4ED-PUBS. "A Study of Charter Schools: Second-Year Report" is not yet available to the public, however a free summary is available by calling (202) 401-1576.

While most charter schools are similar to their districts in the racial and economic backgrounds of their students, it says, about one-third are more likely to serve poor and minority students.

The report issued last month is the second installment in a four-year study of such public schools, which operate without some state and local regulations in exchange for greater accountability for student results. ("ED Study Paints Portrait of Charter Schools," June 4, 1997.)

Later reports will address issues such as what impact charter schools have had on student achievement and on public education as a whole.

The department late last month also released a guide for chartering entities that outlines such tasks as devising solid evaluation criteria for reviewing charter applicants, conducting background checks of applicants, and managing an appeals process.

--LYNN SCHNAIBERG

Vol. 17, Issue 43, Page 22

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