In 1993, an innovative group of parents and teachers received permission to create the Minnesota New Country School. Despite its early success, the school has demonstrated how even the most successful charter schools are unlikely to improve a state's educational system.
For years, a number of reformers have been urging that parents be permitted to choose their children's schools and that the budget of each school depend on the parents' choices. Advocates of educational choice argue that injecting competition into a moribund public school monopoly will compel schools to respond to parents' demands and improve the quality of education. Some examples of choice, such as magnet schools, have been around for some time. But only recently have any states or local governments begun to put the school-choice model to a significant test. Perhaps the biggest test -- certainly one of the best publicized -- is now in progress in Minnesota.