Journal of Curriculum Studies 2 (45):251-276 (2013)

Sarah Stitzlein
University of Cincinnati
Most Americans and many residents of other democratic countries hold public schools to the social and political goal of preparing children to be good citizens. This goal is being challenged by some new forms of schooling promoted through popular education reform movements, especially in the US. This article reveals potentially insurmountable conflicts between the beliefs and practices of one of those forms of schools, for-profit charter schools, and their public task of educating for citizenship. This study begins by exploring the public nature and purposes of public schools, especially their role in creating particular types of citizens. This understanding of public schooling and good citizenship, then, becomes the theoretical lens for analysing the practices of for-profit charter schools. A critical discourse analysis was conducted of school materials such as websites, curricula, investor relation materials, proposals for new charter schools, and interviews with charter school founders. That analysis was used to indicate aspects of support for and incompatibility with quality citizenship education and to assess the overall likelihood that for-profit schools can educate citizens well.
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