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Demand for charter schools is high, seats are few


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, reports The Wall Street Journal.
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 has more than doubled in the last six years. Charters are publicly funded schools that have more freedom than traditional schools to vary their learning approaches. Sponsored by a variety of entities, including state school boards and local school districts, they are oftened governed day-to-day by autonomous boards. A public-school student is free to transfer to a charter school, space permitting.
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 typically aren’t unionized, to oppose their expansion…

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