The nation’s first private school voucher program and first charter school law came into being at virtually the same time. But chartering took off quickly as state after state passed laws of their own, and before long there were thousands of charter schools scattered across the nation. But few public programs for private schools were created in the years after the Milwaukee experience. Of late, tax credit and scholarship programs have become resurgent.
So what can advocates of such programs learn from charter schooling’s 20 years of experience and evolution — both its successes and struggles? Three strategies hold the most promise for enabling private school programs to thrive: the development of school networks, new-school incubators, and accountability via authorizers.