Review of A New Frontier: Utilizing Charter Schooling to Strengthen Rural Education

Andrew Smarick
Bellwether Education Partners, J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho
March 13, 2014

Bellwether Education Partners published A New Frontier: Utilizing Charter Schooling to Strengthen Rural Education in 2014. According to the publication, nine of the nation’s 10 most rurally populated states have no charter schools (in 8 of the 9, they are not permitted); a major purpose of the document is to argue for expanding charter schools into these states. While it is presented in a fashion similar to scholarly research, serious omissions and distortions make New Frontier little more than a political lobbying document targeting rural regions (even the most urbanized states have rural regions). Especially problematic are the inadequate support or explanation for New Frontier’s premises and its presentation of superficial and misleading use of research, particularly rural education research. In the end, it is little more than an advocacy document with premises that predetermine its recommendations: how to establish more charter schools in rural regions. Missing research and slanted representations render the document useless as a source of objective information. New Frontier is propaganda—neither a thoughtful inquiry nor an honest report. 

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