The Intersection of Charter School and Private School Choice

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Fourth grade students in group

The following post is provided by Robert C. Enlow, president and CEO of EdChoice, as a preview to their upcoming panel at the 2019 National Charter School Conference entitled "Friend or Foe: The Intersection of Charter School and Private School Choice,” an honest conversation exploring how both movements have evolved over time, how data and regulation have affected public opinion, and how charter and private school advocates can better work together while acknowledging their differences.  

Everyone can agree that families should be empowered to access K-12 schooling options that work for their kids, right? 

So why does it feel—especially these past couple years—like private school choice and charter schools seem to be at odds? 

From our vantage point at EdChoice, we embrace all schooling types without compromising our mission, but there’s plenty of disagreement out there about how schools should be regulated, who should be regulating them, how to measure accountability and, most importantly, what families actually care about. 

It’s time for an honest conversation about how we got here—what we need to do to continue on as side-by-side allies and whether we can honestly acknowledge our differences before we step into the policy ring so we don’t wind up tripping all over each other. 

The truth is today’s ed reformers are not the same ed reformers who started the movement a couple decades ago. 

The test-based accountability we used to fight for has become commonplace, but it’s often used against us. It’s become tougher than ever before to explain how schools are funded—and why teachers aren’t getting the pay they deserve. Somewhere along the way, we may have placed far too much emphasis on data and not nearly enough on those who benefit most from choice: students and families. 

Not to pile on, but the movement may be hitting its soul-searching moment at exactly the wrong time: The debate is further amplified by the looming 2020 presidential race, where charters are in the crosshairs of nearly every Democratic primary candidate, and private school choice isn’t even on the radar despite making yearly progress in states.

Do we face a crisis of apathy and accountability?

One thing is for sure: We’re asking these questions in a fraught political environment and we need to figure out what we still have in common. That’s what we’ll be discussing at the National Charter School Conference on Tuesday, July 2. Hope to see you there!

Title: Friend or Foe: The Intersection of Charter School and Private School Choice


  • Robert Enlow EdChoice
  • Derrell Bradford 50CAN
  • David Hardy Boys Latin of Philadelphia Charter School
  • Robbyn Wahby Missouri Charter Public School Commission

Location: Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Breakers A/B

Time: Tuesday 7/2, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

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