Charter schools were conceived as an alternative to underperforming public schools. These schools allowed educators and entrepreneurs to ignore bureaucratic systems that are so prevalent in public schools. Charter schools were allowed to develop experimental teaching models so long as they were accountable for the results.
Today more than 2.3 million K-12 students are enrolled in over 6000 charters schools operated in the United States.
One major advantage of charter schools was its potential for creativity by, in large part, eliminating the amount of paper work that public schools required for innovation or doing anything not approved by the bureaucracy.
This allowability for creativity appears to be in n danger. For instance, of the eight schools that applied for charters in Washington, DC. only one one application was less than 200 pages. The longest was more than 700. This paperwork paralysis is one way public schools have long lost the ability to innovate.
In New Orleans, the city with the largest share of students enrolled in charter schools, these schools are being pressured to adopt standardized discipline systems and other standardizing procedures. Well intentioned administrators are moving away from efficiency and effectiveness of charter schools. The risk is making these schools into the very system that they were meant to complement.