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Brilliant, Bored or Badly-Behaved?: Media Coverage of the Charter School Debate in the United States

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Findings: Our analysis uncovered several interesting themes. First, we found that print media depictions of charter and alternative school teachers tended to be more positive than media depictions of teachers in traditional public schools. This was especially true of print media coverage of charter schools that serve low-income students and/or students of color. Our analysis also cast doubt on a core assumption of the charter school debate; that charter schools’ approach to educating their students differs significantly from that of traditional public schools and public alternative schools. In their articles about charter schools that serve middle-income students, reporters described institutional cultures and pedagogical strategies identical to those found in alternative schools with similar student populations. When reporting on alternative schools that serve low-income students and/or students of color, reporters described pedagogical strategies that mirrored those found in charter schools with similar student populations.

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