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The Charter School Wars

Insight from a Charter School Innovator

Thomas Lubben

Educational reform has been a topic of scholarly conversation for a long time, but little significant movement toward action has been made. Charter schools were discussed in varied forms throughout the 1980s, but it was not until 1991 that the State of Minnesota put charter school law into practice. Thomas Lubben entered the charter school world in 1996 when the State of Pennsylvania was in the process of discussing its law that was passed the same year. The Charter School Wars closely follows the personal life of a lifelong educator as he negotiated the political and personal steps involved in creating a school from nothing. The first several chapters focus on the obstacles and pitfalls that the author faced during the seven-year struggle to create a charter high school based on the creative and performing arts. Later chapters focus on the expansion of this proven artistic model into additional schools. Lubben compliments the personal narrative with a chapter, "A Charter School Primer," that focuses on the critical elements needed to open a charter school. Charter school parents, teachers, administrators, and enthusiasts will find this book an interesting and poignant read as they navigate their way through the charter school landscape.

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This book does not pretend to be a know-it-all about developing and initiating a charter school. It is more a set of memoirs and memories of my adventures in attempting to create (as of this writing) eight schools. At the conclusion of the more “memoir” portion of the book, you will find a special appendix with several major points that you may find helpful as and if you consider forming a new charter school.


It was mid-September of 2015. It was closing in on an artificial anniversary of what I sometimes called my “Year from Hell.” In September of 2014, my wife of twenty-plus years told me that she was leaving (with good cause—but that’s another book […]). My divorce became final in January of 2015 and I had a near fatal fall in February. Major radical knee surgery put me down for several months […]. (Subsequently, God guided me, and I remarried my first wife one day prior to my seventy-fifth birthday in 2016!) ← vii | viii →

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