Alberta Charter Schools: Paradox and Promises


  • Lynn Bosetti



The intent of this article is to examine the role of charter schools in educational reform in the Alberta context and to argue that the real promise of charter schools resides less in fostering innovation and efficiency in public education, and more in providing schools of choice for parents and in addressing diverse values and goals of education. This article is premised on the concern for the global phenomenon of governments adopting market solutions to address "problems" related to diversity, efficiency, and accountability in the public sector. Governments depoliticize education and debates regarding its social purposes "by placing it as much as possible in the province of parental authority" and market forces, and at the same time "deny parents the democratic authority to implement educational policy that requires state support" (Gutmann, 1987, p. 11). This approach marks a "paradigm shift in the economics of education policy and social policy in general" (Gewirtz, Ball, & Bowe, 1995, p. 2), with a new emphasis on accountability and efficiency through competition and consumer choice.