The Politics Of Educational Reform: The Alberta Charter School Experiment 20 Years Later


  • Lynn Bosetti University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Philip Butterfield Connect Charter School Calgary, Alberta Canada


Charter schools, educational reform, school choice


In this paper we examine the charter school movement in Alberta over the past 20 years to assess those factors that have affected its impact on public education. Through a content analysis of policy documents, charter school research, and interviews with various stakeholder groups we elucidate how the charter school policy and regulations limit and control the impact of competition and innovation and contravene market theory.  Specifically we focus on the extent to which charter schools in Alberta are fulfilling the expectations of policy reformers—as sites of research and innovation, vehicles to create competition and expanded choice options for parents, and improve student achievement.   We conclude the impact of charter schools is more the result of innovative policy design than free market competition.

Author Biographies

Lynn Bosetti, University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Lynn Bosetti, PhD


Education Policy & Leadership

Faculyt of Education

Philip Butterfield, Connect Charter School Calgary, Alberta Canada

Phil Butterfield, PhD

Assistant Principal

Connect Charter School,