Selected readings on US charter schools
In the previous election, Washington’s Proposition 1240, the initiative introducing 40 public charter schools to Washington State over the next five years, was ratified by only a .38 percent margin. This concerns me. Having attended a charter school, I personally understand the significant benefits that charter schools have for low-income, working class children and communities.
Regardless of whether you voted “yes” or “no,” the presence of charter schools in Washington State means that disadvantaged students will now have the opportunity to receive a private school education at the public school price, and that a model that is proven to work may ultimately motivate the public school system to change the things that clearly haven’t been working.
Charter schools will positively impact communities and make headway on closing the achievement gap in Washington State. In California, public schools that converted to charter schools saw an average of 17 to 25 percent growth in the proficiency of their students in math and English, as determined by standardized testing, in just a few years.
Although public schools in Washington are not necessarily converting to charter schools, it is important to note that charter schools are publicly managed and funded mostly by nonprofit organizations, which means that money will not be taken away from local public schools in order to allow space for charter schools.
Parents choose to put their children into private school because these schools are constantly improving. The staff always seeks to be up-to-date with the latest technologies or learning techniques. Charter schools are like private schools in the way that parents, teachers and students provide their input on how the school should run. However, charter schools are not like private schools because they are absolutely free. Before, the privilege to decide on a school was reserved for those who had the economic means to do so, but with the existence of charter schools, working class families have the opportunity to ensure that their children receive the best education possible.
Charter schools are also equally available to everyone, although they oftentimes turn to lotteries in order to fairly provide students the opportunity to enroll. In 2010 it was reported that only 33 percent of fourth graders and 36 percent of eighth graders enrolled in public schools received “proficiency” or higher on standardized tests. Clearly, there is a need to reform the current public school education model as it stands. Part of the problem is that public schools are limited in the kind of major changes they can make because the process is extremely bureaucratic and laborious.
Charter schools are the perfect solution to offering immediate aid to those students who are not benefiting from the public school system. It is not fair that those without certain means are left behind because of a system that is too slow to change. Charter schools show public schools that providing an excellent education to all students should be a rule and not an exception.
Source: The Pioneer – Sayda Morales