Two major structural shifts have occurred in education reform in the past two decades: the decline of civil rights reforms and the rise of charter schools. Courts and policy makers have relegated traditional civil rights reforms that address segregation, poverty, disability, and language barriers to near irrelevance, while charter schools and policies supporting their creation and expansion have rapidly increased and now dominate federal policy. Advocates of traditional civil rights reforms interpret the success of charter schools as a threat to their cause, and, consequently, have fought the expansion of charter schools. This Article argues that the civil rights community has misinterpreted both its own decline and the rise of charter schools. Rather than look for external explanations, civil rights advocates should turn their scrutiny inward. And, rather than attack charter schools, they should learn from them.
September 2016, Vol. 68, No. 5
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