Charter Schools

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Charter Schools Since President Clinton signed into law, H. R. 2616, the “Charter School Expansion Act of 1998” charter schools have been providing an alternative for parents of public school students (Lin, Q., 2001, p.2). To date, charter schools enroll over 500,000 students (Fusarelli, 2002, p. 1). Charter schools have been favorable because it is believed that they can provide for a way to enhance student achievement by serving students who have been under-served by the public schools (Fusarelli, 2002). There is a belief that by creating a competitive educational system, public schools will undergo significant reforms in response to the threat (Franklin, 2002). Because parents of charter school students have made the choice for their children to attend a charter school, it is believed that parents will become more “involved” in their child’s education (Hammer, 2003). Charter schools in many states are “exempt from many state mandates” (Fusarelli, 2002, p. 2). As a result of these exemptions, charter schools also have more flexibility for the administrators when hiring teachers and running a school. They are able to provide higher salaries for teachers working in hard to fill teaching positions (Finn, Kanstoroom, 2002). On the flip side of the issue, charter schools have been destined to fail due to the lack of funding and their limited resources resulting from poor planning. Charter schools are often believed to be operated by self appointed leaders accused of lacking adequate skills to establish quality charter schools (Self, 2002). Because of their newness to the educational arena, little is known about their long-term effectiveness (Lubienski, 2003). Charter schools are independent public schools of choice. Finn (1996) writes that researchers find that the best charter schools have near total independence to decide what and how to teach, whom to hire and how to use their resources, hours of operation, and how best to meet students' needs. One would assume that many charter schools are enjoying the flexibility and success of operating a school of choice. However, charters are also held accountable in a way that regular public schools are not. When a charter school experiences severe troubles, it usually faces severe consequences. To date, more than 200 failed or failing charter schools have been closed on fiscal, educational, and organization... ... middle of paper ... ...a, district schools have lost state funding equivalent to 57% per pupil for every student who has transferred from the district to charter schools. This is a major concern, especially considering the other major cuts the government has imposed on the schools. Maranto (Wint 2001) states that because of this public schools are in competition with charter schools. In conclusion, many frustrated teachers, parents, and other stakeholders believe that government is not in a position to provide solutions to improve education because the traditional government structures and mandates are, they believe, a large part of the problem (Chubb & Moe, 1990). A real solution, they offer, is to reinvent the system by which we provide and run public education; a reinvented system of choice, flexibility, and accountability that includes the creation of charter schools. Communities are invited to create new public schools with high levels of autonomy to be innovative in ways that may or may not embrace traditional educational structures. These schools are invited to take new and uncharted paths, but also are held responsible for ensuring that these paths lead to educational success for students.

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