From Washington to Trenton to Newark, political leaders from both parties--including President Barack Obama and Gov. Chris Christie--are promoting charter schools as an answer to perceived public school failure, says And the privately run but publicly funded schools receive support from some of the wealthiest and most famous people on the planet. But a few activists based in Princeton, some charter school parents, and a Rutgers researcher want their voices heard above the cheerleading. They warn charters are not panaceas.

"We are not against charter schools," says Julia Sass Rubin of Princeton, whose daughter attends one. She is part of...

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