What’s the Deal With Charter Schools?

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.

 

Siobhan

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4 Responses to What’s the Deal With Charter Schools?

  1. kellyeb2015 says:

    Much like you, I never thought much about charter schools until recently. A family member of mine is about to start kindergarten in August, and charter schools have come up in conversation in the past few months. I did some research about the charter schools in his area (Alamance/Burlington), in addition to charter schools in general, and found results very similar to yours. My take on charter schools is that if every child should be put in a school that fits his or her needs, and for this little boy, the charter schools seem to be a good fit for him. The curriculum and teaching style seems to mesh well with the way he is learning so far in preschool, and if it doesn’t work out, he can always switch schools.

    I feel that charter schools are only good for our society, because they give parents yet another option, besides public and private schools, to consider when choosing a school that is best for their child. I just wish that more parents were able and willing to do the research necessary to find the right school in their area for their children.

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  2. clr21 says:

    This is a great post and I love how you personalize these findings with logical pros and cons. I am doing my research project for this class on charter schools and would love to talk to more about any information that I find/anything you found while researching for this blog. Overall, I think it’s a great opportunity for students to have more of a say in their style of education. There definitely is no “one size fits all” school, and this is a great start to an alternative option!

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  3. bgaudette says:

    I also until recently did not know there was a lot of controversy over charter schools. I think that parents should have a choice of where to send their kids to school, and if the charter school can provide a better education then their children should be able to go there. The issue of funding I found the most interesting…funding is a huge issue within public school not just in charter schools. Only targeting charter school seems ridiculous to me. Funding is a much broader issue and its problems come from unequal systems in society not from charter schools.

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  4. khjinni says:

    I love how you’ve organized your post in a concise matter. The information was extremely easy to understand and your personal contribution prompted me to view charter schools favorably. But I’d like to raise the question of how charter schools work into social justice. If one of the goals of public schools is to establish equality in education, wouldn’t the presence of charter schools and diverse curriculum disrupt this purpose?

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