ARTICLE: SCHOOLS WITHOUT RULES? CHARTER SCHOOLS, FEDERAL DISABILITY LAW, AND THE PARADOXES OF DEREGULATION Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1997 President and Fellows of Harvard College
Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review

ARTICLE: SCHOOLS WITHOUT RULES? CHARTER SCHOOLS, FEDERAL DISABILITY LAW, AND THE PARADOXES OF DEREGULATION

Summer, 1997

32 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 301

Author

Jay P. Heubert*

Excerpt

Introduction

A charter school is a public school created through a charter with the state, a school district, or some other public entity. State charter school statutes typically relieve charter schools of state and local regulations so the schools are free to innovate and experiment. In exchange, charter schools agree that renewal of their charters will be contingent on their success in improving student academic achievement. Depending on state law, charter schools may be subject to the control of traditional school boards or granted independence from local school authority. 1

In the first Presidential debate of 1996, President Clinton characterized charter schools as schools "that have no rules." 2 Similarly, Chester Finn, a leading Republican charter school proponent, wrote in August 1996 that "the best . . . [charter] schools have near total independence to decide what to teach and how to teach it, whom to hire and how to use their resources, what hours to operate and how best to meet students' needs." 3

If federal disability laws and regulations apply to public charter schools, however, it is fair to say that such schools do have rules and do not have anything approaching complete independence with respect to curriculum, pedagogy, employment, facilities, and financing. In fact, federal disability laws and regulations are as detailed and far-reaching as any set of rules to which public schools are subject 4 and they are also quite costly; a significant portion of all public school funding ...
 
 
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