Why the Charter School Movement Is Pushing Back on a Religious Charter
A Catholic school, newly approved in Oklahoma, is testing the bounds of what it means to be a charter uncomfortably so for some leaders.
When Ember Reichgott Junge, a Democratic state senator from Minnesota, sponsored the countrys first charter school law in 1991, she envisioned a new kind of public school.
Parents, she said, were clamoring for more school choice, not unlike today. Republicans tended to be for school vouchers, which help families pay for private school, including religious education. Fellow Democrats often wanted more funding for traditional public schools.
Charter schools gained support as an alternative: Paid for with taxpayer dollars, but run independently, the schools would offer families new options, but set firmly in the sphere of public education.
It was always public always, Ms. Reichgott Junge, now 69, said in an interview.
Now, three decades later, the very idea that charters are public schools is being challenged in Oklahoma, which just approved the first religious charter school in the nation.