All my life I have never considered the idea of a charter school controversial. I went to public school, some of my friends went to charter school, and I did not spend a great deal of time, if any at all, thinking about the deep rifts in the education world due to the existence of charter schools.
Then I came into the world of education. Apparently there is a long and ongoing debate on the effectiveness of these schools and why they exist in the first place. I had no idea about this at all and so I have decided to do some research as to why there is a great debate and what this all means to me.
So obviously I started by googling, “Why are charter schools so bad?” Here is a list of reasons I found and my reactions to those reasons.
1. Charter schools are public schools run independently of the usual government standard.
This does not seem like the worst thing in the world. For-profit companies can provide schools with the necessary resources needed to flourish. Also with the privatization of schools comes competition within the schooling process creating an environment where schools need to “step up their game” to obtain more students. I almost looked at it as the new healthcare market under the new system where people can go, figure out what the different plans look like, and then choose accordingly. If public healthcare does not have to be one size fits all, why does public education have to be? There is also not a constrain to government standards meaning that new reforms can be implemented and tried without the long process of getting them approved through the State or Federal government. This means that innovation within the education system can thrive because administrators and policymaker alike are not being restricted.
2. The evidence is mixed on performance levels.
There are a lot of different points of view on how charter schools match up with public schools in the United States. This is because no charter school is going to be the same as another. They will not have the exact same standards, the same vision, be backed by the same investors, or attract the same students. This creates a situation in which you are almost comparing apples and oranges. It is hard to compare schools that really do not have a lot in common, especially if you are comparing two schools from two completely different areas of the country. I read evidence that pointed to the idea that charter schools preform better than public schools and visa versa. Charter schools are not even held to the same national standards so how can they be compared?
3. These schools can create a large socioeconomic gap.
Because parents have a choice where to send their students a large divide is created between the different schools. This causes the richer schools to be better funded in the long run due to community involvement and donations. Is this not even more true of public schools? Students within the public education system are assigned to a certain school in a certain district, depending on where they live, causing these schools to become racially and socioeconomically segregated.
Overall, charter schools do not seem like a bad option to me. I understand that there are definitely some drawbacks within the system, but giving students and parents the opportunity to further choose where their child is educated allows for the system to continue to innovate, grow, and change as necessary.