Over the past quarter century, charter schools have evolved from a fringe educational philosophy to a prominent academic option for American school children and their families. While the history and political positioning of charter schools have been well documented, the tenet of choice continues to be central in the debate regarding the merit of the charter alternative to traditional public schools. In this essay, I seek to dispel the notion that choice is a simple selection between binary opportunities, but rather a complex exchange between stakeholders. I present how educational options such as charters present a different paradigm of values when compared to precedents of the common schools of the mid-nineteenth century and established public education policy. Although some practices in charter schools may challenge the comforts of long-standing educational traditions, I assert that within these choices there may be opportunity for the music education community to truly reimagine its practices. I conclude with a call to music educators to make important decisions regarding charter schools and music education. Thoughtful steps can be taken to develop this curricular conversation and music educators have a professional duty to begin the dialogue. Failing to do so will be, by default, a choice to limit music education to traditional venues, thereby ignoring one of the fastest growing educational enterprises of our generation and an opportunity to provide a music education for all.


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pp. 192-209
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