Dewey's theory of the democratic public and the public character of charter schools

Educational Theory 60 (6):665-681 (2010)
Abstract
In this essay, Leonard Waks reconsiders the issue of the public character of charter schools, that is, schools funded through public taxation but operated by non‐state organizations such as nonprofit and for‐profit educational corporations and nongovernmental public interest organizations. Using John Dewey's conception of a democratic public as a framework, Waks examines the following questions: Are schools chartered and funded by government, but operated by nonprofit nongovernmental organizations, ever appropriate instruments of a democratic public? If so, what criteria might distinguish those that are appropriate from those that are not? How might public education be re‐institutionalized so as to include the charter schools that are appropriate? Waks concludes that Dewey's theory of democratic publics can play a useful role in thinking about how to balance the democratic benefits of charter schools for the various subcommunities of our society with the democratic requirement of broad public discourse and intergroup education
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