One of the most pressing issues facing the United States today is its failing educational system. While many solutions have been proposed, the idea of charter schools has been both popular and controversial. The topic of charter schools is being debated in as many places as local school board meetings to state supreme courts. Though on the surface, charter schools seem like an exciting and promising step for the future of education in America, they are not the answer to this country’s ever-increasing educational problems. Charters will drain already scarce funding from regular public schools, and many of the supposed “positives” surrounding them are uncertain and unpredictable at best.
The future of our country relies heavily on the successes of our children. With a rise in global competition and a downturn in the economy, it is now more important than ever for the youth of our country to receive the best education possible. As the Obama administration prepares to revamp the No Child Left Behind initiative, much attention is being given to the challenges and successes of charter schools. A charter school is defined as a school that operates independently from the local school board, often with a curriculum and educational philosophy that are different from the other schools in the system. Advocates for charters schools, while focusing on the success stories, believe that funding is needed for these schools so that the successes will continue to grow. Others claim that the success of charter schools is exaggerated and additional funding provided to these charter schools is taking away from the less successful schools that need more assistance. Should the new education initiative emphasize more funding to support a growing number of charter schools? In order for the new education initiative to be successful, the positive elements of charter schools should be gleaned and incorporated into the general public school system and into pre-existing schools.
To understand the actual differences of charter and public school quality of education, it is important to emphasize a fact often lost in the debate; namely, charter schools are public schools, which simply operate under different guidelines. This reality is more critical because of how perception clouds it. Charter schools are perceived as private institutions, supporters of them tend to be conservatives who feel the schools represent the value of competition in education, while opponents typically express the need for public school reform as more crucial in promoting educational equality (Rofes, 159). This political and ideological compone...
Public and charter schools may look to be the same, but charter schools differ in many ways and have an interesting origin that is often overlooked. The concept of charter schools began in New York City around the late 1980s and early 1990s by a man name Albert Shanker. They were originally created to be teacher-run schools that would provide education and services to students struggling in the traditional school system (Karp, 2013). These schools had operated outside the administrative bureaucracy and the big city school board. Shanker initial concern was that these small charter schools were dividing the district by serving a different population with unequal access as well as weakening the power of teacher union in negotiation over district-wide policies and regulations (Karp, 2013). Because of this Shanker withdrew his support, but charters had continued to grow and states were ...
It was with wild fanfare that the state’s Republican legislature and Republican Governor enacted their reforms for the state’s public school system. Among the panaceas was charter schools, a ‘90s education fad that gives individual parents the right to send their children to state-approved public charter schools at public expense. Politicians reasoned that less-bureaucratic charter schools would teach students better than traditional public schools because charter schools wouldn’t be subject to the same mandates that the state had heaped upon public schools. Furthermore, traditional schools would be forced to compete with charter schools as they lured thousands of students and millions of dollars away from traditional public schools. Competition from charter schools would then lead to all-around better schools in the state as traditional public schools improved themselves to remain competitive with the cutting-edge charter schools.
Charter schools are independent schools that are operated under a contract or charter approved by the state. These schools are tuition free and are funded by taxpayer dollars. However, charter schools do not have to follow the laws and regulations that traditional public schools do (“Charter schools,” 2011). In charter schools, teachers are given more opportunities to be innovative in the classroom, because they have less restrictions as to what is being taught. Most charter schools have specialized programs and can emphasize particular fields of study (“Charter schools,” 2011). Charter schools are still accountable for student accomplishment (“What are”, n.d.). Each charter school has specific goals that are set prior to the schools opening; if these goals are not met, then the school can be shut down. So even though these schools do not have to abide by state and federal laws and regulations they must prove they are providing a valuable education to their students.
Charter schools, which exist all over the United States, are “rooted in the premise of public, free education nestled in the ideas of parental choice” (Pardo 6). Since “Minnesota launched its first charter school in 1991”, charter schools have experienced “an enormous increase in number to over 5,300 by 2011” (Chen). Like traditional public schools, charter schools are “funded with public money” (Chen). However, parents have to “submit a separate application to enroll their children in charter schools, and spaces are often limited” (Pascual). Each charter school has an independent governing board that oversees finance (Pardo 6). Enrollment is based on choice, with parents selecting schools due to their specific focus, curriculum or other features (Pardo 7). When enrollment is exc...
School choice: two words that together spell out a multitude of educational options for students today. Among them are charter schools and public schools; public schools standing the test of time and charter schools being at the forefront of a revolution in educational change. Surprisingly, these two educational institutions have more in common than one might think, but maintain their differences. Key differences between charter and public schools include approach to education, funding, level of government involvement, and enrollment practices. Despite these differences, both charter and public schools share the following features: free of charge to students, required to demonstrate adequate yearly progress on state standardized tests and status as public institutions. Charter schools are educational institutions that share common features with public schools and at the same time have key differences that make them unique.
Institutional theory explains how government control of schools has resulted in the creation of “schooling rules” which leads to greater isomorphism within the institution of education (Meyer & Rowan, The Structure of Educational Organizations, 1978). These “schooling rules” that have resulted from the institutionalization of government control are the very “rituals” which charter school advocates claim have homogenized education. Charter school advocates proposed a new decentralized alternative form of schooling in order to protect against this homogenization and standardization and to create a better education system in the United States. Charter school supporters assert that by lifting governmental controls over schools, charter schools will lead to new teaching and learning methodologies and more efficient school models. Looking at charter schools through a new institutionalism lens helps us to understand the rise of charter schools in U.S. education.
Foster, Anne. "Time for Detente between Charter and Traditional Public Schools."Academic Search Alumni Edition. EBSCO, 1 Feb. 2014. Web. 22 June 2014. .