by Donna Krache, CNN
With recent statistics indicating that more students than ever are enrolled in charter schools, there’s no end in sight to the ongoing debate over which is more effective in educating our kids: Traditional public or charter schools. A newly released report offers potential talking points for both sides.
On Wednesday, the Center for Education Reform issued “The State of Charter Schools.” According to the report, 1,036 of about 6,700 charter schools – about 15% - have “closed for cause” since the first charter law was passed in 1992. Among the major reasons cited for those closures, according to the report, are financial, mismanagement, academic performance, facilities and district obstacles.
Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, called performance-based accountability “the hallmark of the charter school concept,” in the report, but also noted the importance of parental choice: More than 19 million parents “have had public school choices they would otherwise never have had,” according to Allen. This is especially the case for those who do not have the financial means to pay for a private education, she said.
In other charter schools news this week:
In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill into law that removes the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The measure also introduces new reporting and accountability standards for charters. Charter schools continue to enjoy parental as well as political support on state and federal levels.
In Thursday’s post on The Educated Reporter, writer Emily Richmond focuses on heavy expectations being put upon charter schools. She reports that Chicago is adding 12 more charters in spite of a recent report calling performance at its current charter schools “lackluster.” Richmond asks why having the “luxury” of mandating parent involvement hasn’t translated into more clear-cut academic success. You can read the full post here.
Your thoughts on the topic
Here on the Schools of Thought blog, Steve Kastenbaum’s story “Charter schools: Wave of the future?” generated a lot of discussion. Parents and teachers weighed in on charter schools vs. traditional public schools, teachers’ unions, the “cherry-picking” of students vs. accepting all, poverty and parental involvement. Here’s a sampling of some of the comments from our readers:
Massachusetts has one of the strongest teacher unions in the country, makes little use of charter schools, and is consistently at the top of educational rankings with its students scoring higher in tests across the board. Charter schools are just a new fad in education. They are not needed. (from xpxpxp)
I think the point with that was these schools/students are more likely to succeed because the parents are more involved and that's a huge factor in a child's success. (from thenewsjunkie)
Charter schools were established here in the area where I live, and they failed miserably. The premise was good - more structure, more teacher/student interaction, more expectation of appropriate conduct, etc. That is good, and you would think it would lead to a positive result. Unfortunately, it did not. The school administration soon began to reject certain lottery winners and “create” a student body more to their tastes. (from Sherri)
I've worked in public schools, both suburban and urban. Believe me, charter schools are the best way to go. Anyone with kids, do your kids a favor. Send them to charter schools. Don't waste your time with public schools. (from Stayone)
If you notice the people who oppose charter schools have ulterior motives, they will talk about privatization, they will talk about how teachers’ jobs will be affected, they will say it’s a huge conspiracy to undermine public education. But as a parent, my vested interest is not political or financial. My priority is children. (from CIP parent)
I am a teacher... and I work in a public poverty school in Indiana. Last year, our school outperformed most every other elementary school in the country. We were one of one hundred schools that have "closed the achievement gap" in education. Most of our staff is part of the teacher's union. I take so much offense to these comments from people saying that public school teachers or teachers' unions members don't care about the kids. That's pure nonsense. (from Danny)
I teach in a public high school (math and science). We have to accept every student that comes our way and we're under great pressure not to flunk even the worst students due to a complex state formula that cuts funding when a student doesn't graduate on time or drops out. The same formula also penalizes us for poor test scores. There is a quirk in the formula that allows schools that graduate less than 30 students per year to avoid both of those penalties. The three competing charter schools in our district all graduate less than 30 per year, so there is no accountability for them. Their lottery system does randomly let students in, but they are allowed to set a bar that if the students can't perform to a certain level, they are released and then become our problem. My fellow math teachers and I once compiled state test scores for a five year period and discovered that if we eliminated the bottom 5% of our students, our school's scores would improve by 20%, but we can't do that like the charter schools can. (from Dave – Michigan)
Public schools have failed miserably. Teachers, once underpaid and unappreciated became a strong union and like all unions have become a cancer. Do away with board of ed and teachers union. The charter schools are excelling way past public schools and all your excuses and denials won't change that. (from DeeNYC)
Charters are very much needed! They offer a choice to students, and in many cases alleviate over crowding at traditional public schools. Listen, some kids don’t do well in a giant building with 1700 kids. Some kids need a smaller setting. The teacher to student ratio in charter schools typically is much lower that traditional schools. Charters offer extensive instruction in areas traditional schools may not - math and sciences for example - or the arts. Choices are a good thing. Open your mind. (from JoJo)
At Schools of Thought we will continue to cover this topic and look forward, as we always do, to hearing your opinions.