A Think Twice Review of:
A New Frontier: Utilizing Charter Schooling to Strengthen Rural Education
Think Twice - Mar 13, 2014
Publisher/Think Tank - Bellwether Education Partners; J. A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation
Author(s) - Andrew Smarick
A recent document from Bellwether Education Partners argues for expanding charter schools into rurally populated states. It recommends opening the rural charter market and removing barriers to expansion. It highlights several state-level policy recommendations and offers five directives to policymakers: (1) replace barriers to growth with smart, flexible policies; (2) provide flexibility from teacher certification rules; (3) provide fair funding; (4) make facilities accessible; and (5) leverage technology.
Reviewer(s) - Craig Howley, Ohio University
In a review, Ohio University's Craig Howley finds that the document provides no articulated rationale for its recommendations. Citing missing research and slanted representations, Howley declares it "useless as a source of objective information." The document employed very little peer-reviewed research and no reference was found to any peer-reviewed empirical research in rural education. Howley notes that the methods employed by New Frontier are entirely rhetorical, based on unstated assumptions that charter schools provide positive outcomes in all regards. Also, Howley finds the document "obscures rather than illuminates consideration of rural education, making it more harmful than helpful." In summarizing the usefulness of New Frontier, Howley says, "The document is useful only to those who seek to expand charter schools into rural areas."