How public school leaders are responding to charter schools

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shon Patrick Hildreth (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kathy Hytten

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine the perceived impact of charter schools on school systems located in rural areas and to learn what strategies school leaders are using to compete with charter schools. Across the country, charter school growth has exploded over the last twenty years with over three million students now attending charter schools. North Carolina, where this study took place, has one of the fastest growing charter programs in the country. Since 2011, when a cap on the number of charter schools in North Carolina was lifted, charter schools have expanded rapidly. In fact, charter school enrollment increased almost 70% in the first 4 years after the cap was lifted. Even rural areas are now being impacted by charter schools. This research is based on a qualitative study I conducted of two school districts impacted by the same charter school in order to understand the perceived academic, fiscal, demographic, and human resource impact and to learn about the types of initiatives, policy revisions, and strategies school leaders implemented as a direct result of competition with the charter school. I conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 public school leaders from two different traditional public school districts that resided in the same rural county. Participants included superintendents, central office staff, and principals. The findings indicate that traditional public schools are impacted in a variety of ways. In one school district, this impact was primarily felt through the loss of high-achieving students and white flight. This school district felt pressure to compete for academically successful students and responded by offering a range of new programs to attract these students back. In the other school district, the impact was primarily through student attrition and they too developed strategies to slow the loss of students, in part by better marketing their existing programs as well as developing new programs. One of the biggest lessons learned from this study is that in an era of increasing school choice, traditional public schools need to take marketing more seriously.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Charter schools, Public schools, School choice
Public schools $z North Carolina
Charter schools $z North Carolina
Rural schools $z North Carolina
School choice $z North Carolina
Educational change $z North Carolina

Email this document to