The Charter School Craze: What the Movement Means for Public Education

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The Charter School Craze: What the Movement Means for Public  Education

    We all know that the United States public education system is not     doing well. Schools are closing left and right and last September,     the Chicago Teachers Union held its first strike in a quarter of a     century. The Teachers Union spent an eight-day strike in opposition     of a kind of “education reform” that was ending in school     closures, teachers losing their jobs, and, ultimately, causing the     most harm to students as a result.

    The charter school movement has been touted as a solution to the     problem of a failing public education system in the United States.     The Center for Education Reform proposes that charter schools are an     innovative alternative to conventional public schools that are     designed to show results. Because charter schools are still public     schools, but operate autonomously – that is, they do not have to     abide by most of the regulations that govern most other public     schools – founders have free rein over how the schools are run.

    This can be both a blessing and a curse, as it turns out. Charter     schools, in practice, have not been found to be as promising as they     seem. The biggest of the issues with charter schools, as a number of     parents have found out, is that they are ranked based on – you     guessed it – students’ high stakes standardized test results.

    Because charter schools are public schools, they are not tied to any     school district, but they also do not require students to pass any     entrance exams. As such, a major selling point on the charter school     movement is that anyone can choose to attend one of these     independently run schools. However, because so many parents,     especially in low-income urban neighborhoods, are hoping to send     their kids to the best schools possible, the highest ranked charter     schools end up admitting students based on a lottery system. Even     then, not everyone who gets in is prepared to succeed.

    All public schools are required to administer high stakes     standardized tests to all of their students. Even so, kids who have     special needs or specific learning disabilities end up less able to     succeed than they might otherwise be in a more specialized or     better-funded school, and they end up falling by the wayside. When     charter schools are more invested in upping test scores than     supporting students with special needs, these students often drop     out in favor of other schools – which, in turn, results in     improved test scores for the host charter.

    Not all charter schools are anything like the advertised ideal.     While many of them are modeled after schools like KIPP or Success     Academy, which have over 90% of their students at or above grade     level, the rest struggle behind in testing, a trying experience for     parents, teachers and kids alike.

    To learn more about the ideas behind charter schools in education     reform visit the following sources:


PDF Version on Slide Share  - The Chicago School Reviews