Language Education Policy Studies
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Charter Schools in the U.S. - Part 2: 

Limitations and Policy Directions

             Although the charter school system has been introduced to the US to cope with the failure of traditional public schools in meeting the needs of at-risk population, questions remain to what extent charter schools are implementing innovative curriculum. Freedom is given for teachers and administrators to decide their own curriculum, but No Child Left Behind act, enacted in 2000, obliged them to report scores for achievement tests on reading and math and to improve performance on common cores. Since the performance of charter schools are judged based on the test scores, students’ improvement on areas that are not captured by standardized tests are left out of attention. Policy support is needed to encourage charter schools to develop and implement innovative language curriculum that nurtures multilingual ability, multicultural competence, or intercultural problem solving, which can be true strengths of students from multicultural background.


            There is a growing concern that some charter schools are depleting public funding without serving minority students’ needs. Researchers noted that charters that are affiliated with pro-profit educational management organizations (EMOs) tend to host significantly fewer number of limited or non-English speaking students. Such market-oriented charter schools have a weak tie to the local community, and tend to be less responsive to parents’ request for culturally sensitive language education. Also, there are charters supported by non-profit religious organizations. These schools offer language courses such as Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, and Hmong with extracurricular activities that are religiously imbued in many cases. Whether or not non-religious minority students’ language development and academic achievement are not impeded in religiously-oriented schools is a topic that needs to be investigated.


            One potential threat is that charter schools receive less public funding than traditional public schools – 22 percent less per-pupil dollars. Independence and stability of charter schools will be largely undermined if they have to rely on extra monetary source or exploit teachers due to short budget. Educational policy should create environment where a balance between increased freedom and public accountability can be actively sought and achieved by charter schools.


National Charter School Resource Center: Challenges for English Language Learners

Serving English Language Learners: A toolkit for public charter schools

Religion a big part of the charter school debate


Jewish education in a public school? Inside America's Hebrew charter schools

N.Y./Region: Dual Language School Offers Hebrew

Why Teacher Turnover is a Big Charter School Concern - Yoav Gonen

Professors 711 - Charter School vs. Public School


Apple, M. W. (2006). Educating the “right” way: markets, standards, god, and inequality. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Bulkley, K., & Fisler, J. (2003). A decade of charter schools: From theory to practice. Educational Policy, 17(3), 317-342. doi: 10.1177/0895904803017003002

Eckes, S. E., Fox, R. A., & Buchanan, N. K. (2011). Legal and policy issues regarding niche charter schools: Race, religion, culture, and the law. Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform, 5(1), 85-110. doi: 10.1080/15582159.2011.548252

Lacireno-Paquet, N., Holyoke, T. T., Moser, M., & Henig, J. R. (2002). Creaming versus cropping: Charter school enrollment practices in response to market incentives. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(2), 145-158. doi: 10.3102/01623737024002145

Lazarín, M. (2013, November 18). How Approaches to Stuck-in-the-Mud School Funding Hinder Improvement. Retrieved from

Lubienski, C. (2003). Innovation in education markets: Theory and evidence on the impact of competition and choice in charter schools. American Educational Research Journal, 40(2), 395-443. doi: 10.3102/00028312040002395


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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Bonnelly, Blanca P. & Mun, Sue (2013). Charter Schools in the U.S.: Limitations and Policy Directions. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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