Charter Schools: What Are They?

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Education is one of the most important things that we can provide our children and for most families it is something that parents give their all for but it is still possible to fall short due to lack of funds. Often times the state and local city governments are not willing to go the distance that is required to ensure that the educational system is all that it can be for every student that it has in each city. The purpose of this paper is to discuss charter schools and what makes them so different from other schools. 

What Are They? 

Charter schools are independently run public schools that have a more flexible curriculum which means that they are able to choose much more freely what they teach their students. Parents also have the opportunity to choose if their children go to school here versus the traditional setup of regular public schools were parents have no choice they are stuck with whatever zone they happen to live in (Frequently Asked Questions About Public, Charter Schools). This can be considered good for students because they are able to learn a lot of things that they would not learned traditional public school but also makes it difficult because space is very limited causing some schools to have to resort to a lottery (Ravitch). 

Most charter schools are state-funded and even government-funded which means that they are still held under very strict accountability from the state and local government however there are those that have proven both good and bad things can happen if there is greed and corruption within the school system much like it is in the typical normal public school system (Statistics). When charter schools were first implemented everyone is very excited about them because everyone believed that finally there would be a choice from the traditional norm and that it would give students an opportunity to learn more than they were able to learn in the current system which in most cases has proven to be true however as we all know not every system is perfect and even this one has its ups and downs (Pascual). 

Good Versus Evil

Most parents when their beginning the search for the best possible education for their children look at three types of schools public, charter, and private schools. Depending on the type of parents for example if the parents are Christian their first response or first choice is probably going to be a private school and particular in Christian school of some type. More often than not the only religious schools that are available are most likely Catholic and if the parents are lucky they may find a Protestant school but either away the tuition becomes very expensive (Pascual). 

Charter schools if one is able to get a voucher or win the lottery because the competition for getting one of the few open spots is very fierce each year than it is truly a celebration in the household because maybe just maybe there is a chance that the child may have a good opportunity to get a better education than the traditional public school (Ravitch). Unfortunately there are quite a few public schools that are working very hard to improve themselves that are being looked down on simply because they are public schools and the overall reputation for public schools lately is downright despicable. A good example of this can be found in Aiken South Carolina. The poorest school in the town Aiken High School is located on the north side of town which is known for being the poor side of town yet it has the international baccalaureate program along with the advanced placement program which allows students to obtain college credits while taking courses in high school. It also has many college prep courses and also scores very well academics but everyone in town says it is such a horrible school. It just goes to show the old adage of never judging a book by its cover because one might be surprised by what is found once the book is opened.

Problems with Charter Schools

Just like with any other school system charter schools have their fair share of problems too, but the one that seems to be on the rise currently is that of not knowing what the best form of discipline is. United States Secretary of Education John King Junior stated in his speech that he gave in Nashville and educational convention that, “Discipline is a very complicated issue to the fact that the public discussion of this issue is often very one-sided and all it does is simply put one extreme against another doing nothing to really solve the present issue. All this is leaving us with the option of having a zero-tolerance policy or a policy of total chaos (Office). “The sad part about this is that it does nothing to help the students to walk through the doors all it does leave a very bad taste in the lives of the students and the parents because on the one hand the zero-tolerance policy brings up issues such as a child being kicked out of school for their hair whereas a policy of total chaos allows a student to come to school and commit unspeakable crimes against fellow students and teachers. Where do we draw the line and still teach our children what they need to know so that when they leave the classroom they leave it educated and not end up being another bum on the street with no knowledge and no way to help themselves?

Here are some statistics that some school reformers in the state of Pennsylvania have come up with:

162 charter schools were studied with 28 being traditional brick-and-mortar schools and14 being cyber charters or online based schools. 

It was found that most are not helping kids seeing as school performance scores were higher in the traditional public schools. 

It was also discovered that far too many are cash cows which is probably the saddest discovery of all since they are supposed to be about children’s education not how much money they can get.

The industry is filled with corruption and fraud with its recent incident in the city of Philadelphia.

There is a great lack of transparency and accountability which causes much more harm than good because the lack of accountability causes the opportunity for all kinds of crimes to be committed and there is no way for these schools to be held accountable for any of the wrongdoing until it is way too late (Strauss). 

Those are just a few of the things that were found wrong with the system than in Pennsylvania but if there are these items wrong in Pennsylvania there are many other states that have the same problems to the just have not been found out yet which is a very terrifying thought. What can we do to help our children and ensure that they have the best education possible but still hold the proper authorities accountable as they should be?

Benefits of a Charter School

A shy student walked into a school not knowing what the day will hold all here she knows that is the beginning of a new school year. For most it becomes a day of wishing that the world will swallow them up because they are the class geek or just do not feel like socializing are talking to anyone particular. But for one student it became the opportunity of a lifetime because he entered his charter school which gave him the chance to make friends and excel something that he never been able to do before in a traditional public school. San Francisco’s City Arts and Technology High School is a charter school where teachers tirelessly work with their students to help them to achieve their best something that for many of them have been impossible until now (Fuller). 

The purpose of charter schools originally was to give the principals the freedom of hiring and firing their own teachers so that they can make their schools creative and much more independent for learning some of the classrooms would not be the same old stale and bland classrooms year after year causing students to lose interest. It was also the hope that it would give the local cities the ability to control what their students are learning. The difference is the passion of the teachers to work with their students which unfortunately in the public school system is stifled because they are stuck with the curriculum that they have to teach and most of it is based solely on what they have to prepare for a standardized testing at the end of the year. 

The one benefit of the charter school system is that everything is about the relationships that the teacher and students are able to build. Student interest school in ninth grade and they are very shy and awkward but the more they work with their teachers and fellow students and become more accustomed to them the more they come out of their shell and by the time they get to their senior year of high school to have the confidence that it takes to present a beautiful project to everyone in the world and show how far they have come in four years and how much they have truly learned (Fuller).  It is an amazing journey that is remarkable to see and be a part of from beginning to end. A choir director begins working with a student when they are seven years old and now they are fourteen years old time goes by so quickly and before we know it the child is no longer a child. 

Conclusion

Education is the most important thing that we can give our children but the sad part is that it comes at a very high price and unfortunately for many families too high. Public schools are free but they do not always have the best education but students have to make the best of what is in front of them. Charter schools are wonderful if there ran the way that they were intended to be and if they are able to reach out to every child that truly needs them. 

This can be a very overwhelming process and a very emotional roller coaster not only for parents but also for the children who have to sit and wait to see if their number will be called and they will be able to go to a better school next year or if they are still going to the school that they have been going to do they hate with a passion. Private schools are an option but it depends on if the parents can get a scholarship for their child or even a voucher from the state if they happen to be lucky but even those are very difficult to come by as well because there are so many families that need it and not enough vouchers to go around.

Some students may get lucky if they happen to be exceptionally gifted and talented whether it is academically or in sports but still that is too few and far between also. All one’s hopes and dreams are centered on whether or not one can enter the right school. What a horrible message to send to young people? It basically tells them that if they do not come from the right wealthy family or work hard enough to achieve the proper grades and even then they still may not be lucky enough that they are pretty much out of luck for anything in life. That is absolutely ridiculous and totally absurd and yet older people wonder why young people have no desire to do or accomplish anything in the world to get all their lives is been told that they have to click with the right people and come from the right side of the tracks or it is impossible for them to do anything. Charter schools are at least attempting to change all of that.

Works Cited

Frequently Asked Questions About Public, Charter Schools. n.d. Web. 30 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.uncommonschools.org/faq-what-is-charter-school

Fuller, Bruce. "The Verdict on Charter Schools?" 8 July 2015. The Atlantic. Web. 30 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/07/the-verdict-on-charter-schools/397820/

Office, Press. "Secretary King Calls for Charter Schools to Lead on Rethinking Student Discipline." 28 June 2016. U.S. Department of Education. Web. 30 June 2016. Retrieved from https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-king-calls-charter-schools-lead-rethinking-student-discipline

Pascual, Psyche. "Public vs. private vs. charter schools." 19 May 2016. Great!Kids. Web. 30 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/public-private-charter-schools/

Ravitch, Diane. "The Myth of Charter Schools." 11 November 2010. The New York Review of Books . Web. 30 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2010/11/11/myth-charter-schools/

Statistics, National Educational Center for. "FAST FACTS." 2015. Institute of Education Sciences . Web. 30 June 2016. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=30

Strauss, Valerie. "A dozen problems with charter schools." 20 May 2014. The Washington Post . Web. . 30 June 2016. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/20/a-dozen-problems-with-charter-schools/