Some professionals feel charter schools have been riding high for a long time. The schools that could do no wrong and not held to the same standards as other public schools. Special treatment and still not getting results. Charter schools have closed due to financial, managerial, and academic problems.
Other professionals are tired of the rules and regulations that are a part of the public school and view charter schools as the last chance to save the public school system. Charter schools provide an alternative to the failure and restrictions associated with many public school districts.
What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are part of the public school system and receive public money but do not have the same rules, regulations, or unions that other public schools have. In exchange for this flexibility, charter schools are responsible to produce certain results that are created in the school’s charter. Usually the schools specialize in a certain program area.
Charter schools have been in existence for about 15 years. Minnesota, in 1991 was the first state to pass a charter school law. California was second, in 1992. As of 2008, 41 states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws.
Charter Schools Take a Big Hit
The basic principle of a charter school is that in exchange for flexibility and an increase in autonomy, the charter school will submit to greater accountability. And the results to prove it!
The first national assessment of charter schools reveals that students are not performing up to par. The Center for Research in Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that, on average, students in charter schools did not perform as well as students in traditional public schools.
The Fight is Not Over Yet
Representatives of charter schools are fighting back and cite problems with the study. Correct and probably true in their response but as time goes on, even the perfect solution contends with failure.
Today there is an increase of positive publicity and support for the future direction of charter schools. Locke High School in Los Angeles, a recent new charter, receives a lot of attention. The new charter replaced old faculty, the union, and split the school into smaller academies. The school received positive marks for their first year.
Initial Change Not Always an Indicator of Improvement
Whenever sweeping change is made in a system, we often experience a “honeymoon” phase. The first few years are full of excitement, promise, and hope. Then the dust settles. The honeymoon is over and the real problems begin to surface – or resurface again. Is this what is happening with charter schools?
Future of Charter Schools
Some professionals feel the performance of charter schools is lackluster. The Obama administration thinks differently. Federal stimulus funds have been allocated to push states to accept charter schools. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently spoke at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC. and reinforced strong support for charter schools even in the midst of challenge.
The future of charter schools is yet to be seen. Stay tuned for round two. It promises to be an exciting match!