Selected readings on US charter schools
There has been a lot of debate on education in the state legislature this year. Largely, it has been centered on the Alabama Accountability Act and the vouchers it provides for private schools. While important, these vouchers are not the only creative avenues for education reform. The state needs to have a discussion on charter schools, which have the potential to help all students of the state of Alabama, and not just a few.
Charter schools are publicly funded schools that do not have the same stringent regulation that public schools have. They receive money based on each student they have. These schools typically do admission based on applications, only taking the best students. They also can focus on specific study areas, but also have the ability to have classes that public schools do not, which gives them more options. A student is not forced to join a charter school, but they get the opportunity to apply.
The obvious benefit of charter schools is their potential to help smart kids in poorer areas. Obviously, it is not a cure for all educational woes, but it is a start. These kids are stuck in this broken system and while we have yet to find a way to fix the problem, we can at least give some of these kids a way out and with it, the possibility of a future.
These kids will have the opportunity to go to these charter schools and actually get a good education. With that education they can also have a better chance of going to college and be able to get their family out of the broken system.
Charter schools will help keep the better schools in check. Currently in many of Alabama’s top high schools, more money is allocated for sports than for academic programs. Now imagine if a charter school offered the same academic program that a student wanted, such as a debate team or the IB program, and the public school was not funding the program, the student could opt to attend a charter school.
If public schools want to keep these students, they will need to fund these programs. This means that all students win as they could be a part of these academic programs.
Finally, the state would receive more grant money if they had charter schools. We are one of nine states that do not allow charter schools. There is real federal money for large education grants that one of the stipulations is that the state must have charter schools that we are automatically ineligible for.
The funding received from having charter schools could help some of the poorer schools by giving them more funding, which could assist them in becoming better schools.
We need to act now. We need to tell our representatives that charter schools can help fix education in this state. I am tired of being behind the rest of the country in education, and this could be a small step forward. Yes, I realize it is small, but every journey must begin with a step. Let’s make this step charter schools.
Source: The Crimson White – by Regan Williams