The Pros and Cons of California's Charter Schools

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California is one of the largest states in the country and has one of the biggest state budgets, but in the past several years, its school system has become one of the worst in the nation because of enormous budget cuts in efforts to balance the state’s enormous deficit. The economic downturn at the end of the 2000s resulted in even more cuts to education. It is in environments like this one in which students from poor backgrounds become most vulnerable because of their lack of access to support in their homes as well as other programs outside of schools. Their already financially restricted school districts have no choice but to cut supplementary programs and increase class sizes among other negative changes to public schools. The lack of financial support from the state level as well as demands for schools to meet certain testing benchmarks by the state results in a system in which the schools are no longer able to focus on students as individuals; they are forced to treat students as numbers rather than on an individual case by case basis. An article from the Los Angeles Times showed that majority of Californians give California schools “a grade of C or below” and half think that the quality of schools will continue to decline (Watanabe).While the economic downturn affected the public school system in a negative way, it was not the sole root of its problems. It just simply exacerbated already existing issues. Because of wide spread discontent with the public school system, many different solutions to reform the mainstream public school system have been brought up in public discourse. Even as early as the 1960s, the Washington Post reported that white middle class parents dissatisfied with the “‘mass production’ approach to... ... middle of paper ... .../www.edweek.org/ew/issues/after-school-programs/>. Shapiro, Margaret. "Area's 'Free Schools' on Way Out; Area 'Free Schools' a Victim of Times." Washington Post 9 Nov. 1979, Metro sec.: B1. Print. Watanabe, Teresa. "USC DORNSIFE/ TIMES POLL; Voters Back Tax Hike for Schools; Despite Tough Times, 64% in California Say They Would Pay More to Improve Education." Los Angeles Times 20 Nov. 2011, Main News sec.: 1. Print. Wilson, Steven F., and Research American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy. Success At Scale In Charter Schooling. Education Outlook. No. 3. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 2009. ERIC. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. Zimmer, R. and Buddin, R. (2009), Is Charter School Competition in California Improving the Performance of Traditional Public Schools?. Public Administration Review, 69: 831–845. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6210.2009.02033.x

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