Charter Schools and New Institutionalism Essay

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As of December 2011, there are about 5,600 public charter schools enrolling more than two million students nationwide with more than 400,000 students on wait lists to attend a public charter school. Over 500 new public charter schools opened their doors in the 2011-2012 school year with an estimated increase of 200,000 students. This school year marks the largest single–year increase ever recorded in terms of the number of additional students attending charters (NAPCS Press Releases, 2011).
Institutional theory explains how government control of schools has resulted in the creation of “schooling rules” which leads to greater isomorphism within the institution of education (Meyer & Rowan, The Structure of Educational Organizations, 1978).
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Looking at this we can assume that the authors would say that the rise of charter schools shows that they are not that structurally different from traditional schooling routes because they haven’t yet failed and instead have gained more legitimacy over the past 20 years.
Meyer and Rowan would also say that charter schools became a legitimate form of schooling through conformity: “Our argument hinges on the assertion that education is highly institutionalized in modern society. Its categories of students and graduates, as well as its ritual classification of production procedures — types of teachers, topics, and schools — are all derived from highly institutionalized rules and beliefs. Educational organizations derive power and resources when such rules are institutionalized in society, and they are thus inclined to incorporate and remain in close conformity with such categorical rules” (Meyer & Rowan, The Structure of Educational Organizations, 1978).
Other new institutionalism theorists, DiMaggio and Powell, would also say that charter schools have gained legitimacy through conformity rather than

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