Richard Rothstein is a Prospect contributing editor, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, and senior fellow at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at U.C. Berkeley School of Law.
Fifteen hundred charter schools have been established nationwide since 1991, enrolling 300,000 schoolchildren. The original idea was for parents and teachers, with educational visions, to establish independent publicly funded schools, free from regulations that impede innovation. Superior results would stimulate imitation by regular schools. Charters have been endorsed by both liberal reformers and conservative critics of public education.