The waiting lists for charter schools, already notoriously long, look like they are about to get longer.
President Barack Obama and Arne Duncan, his new education secretary, are trying to entice states into opening more of the alternative schools. But despite brisk enrollment growth and long waiting lines for many existing charter schools, states appear to be in no hurry to oblige.
With 1.4 million students in 4,600 schools, charters are by far the most significant achievement of the “choice” movement that strives to promote educational gains through school competition. Enrollment in charter schools, which are publicly funded, has more than doubled in the last six years.
But obstacles loom to accommodating more charter-school students. The recession has intensified school districts’ concerns about competing for public funds with charter schools. Some charter-school supporters say such schools need more oversight. But unions are using any missteps at charter schools, which aren’t typically unionized, to oppose their expansion.