What impact are charter schools having on public education?

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Sharlene Hinds (not verified)

I teach at a charter school

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I teach at a charter school and I sincerely believe that it offers our cast-off students an alternative to dropping out of school. It is like a safety net for those who do not want or cannot flourish with the "Happy Meal" education that is offered to the masses in our public schools. No school is perfect and admittedly; charters do have their minuses, but in my experience, I would take a charter school over the alternative any day. My kids are great. My principal is great. I love charter schools! And so do our students.
Norm Bossert (not verified)

I believe that Charter

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I believe that Charter Schools are often a poor use of taxpayer monies. They often have unqualified staff. Also, the research clearly shows that they do not offer an alternative or non-traditional approach to teaching, etc. Further, testing clearly shows that they do no better than 'regular' public schools. In fact, public schools - bureacracy or not - are often on the cutting edge of strong research based teaching practices, and offer strong evidence of success and the highest level of accountability. I answered in a neutral fashion because I choose not to paint all charters in such a fashion. In a community of several, there are one or two that seem to be doing good things.
Jerry Jaco (not verified)

The charter school movement

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The charter school movement has encountered the same problems other educational movements have run into and that's the clear reality that ultimately, the success of a school is based on its totality: -- the quality of every individual involved in it from student to teacher to administrator to parent; -- the quality of its local environment and facilities -- the quality of its vision and intent When these many, many variables are taken into consideration, EVERY school will have differences that can be addressed as opportunites for growth or impediments to change. The fact that schools represent our society's first line desire to promote change for future generations is going to also underscore the fact that most educators and non-educators alike have widely divergent ideas about what schools are supposed to be within our society. If the current system is not working, charter schools represent an effort to experiment and change the system and are, therefore, worthy of being granted a little leeway to try new things. On the other hand, if the charter school is simply being used to bolster a political agenda, it is doomed to fail and deserves no special considerations. A true learning organization will be open to change and to new methods of self-assessment because it will be constantly examining itself and re-inventing itself as it goes through its daily existence. To apply older models of assessment and "accountability" seems a step backwards based on maintaining political control instead of recognizing the fluid nature of the art of teaching and learning.
Mary (not verified)

Charter schools can pick and

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Charter schools can pick and choose their students. They can require parents to volunteer a set number of hours. The students can be required to sign and abide by a behavior and/or academic contract. The charter schools often require extended days or summer courses and have strict attendance requirements. What is the penalty for failing to abide by the contract? - - - The students are sent back to the public schools. Students with parental support would do well in any setting -- public, private or charter. Charter schools are not the answer.
Bruce Cattanach (not verified)

The Teacher's Unions will

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The Teacher's Unions will always oppose charter schools as it dilutes the student base and the financial base of the public schools. We find some high quality students leaving the public schools, usually to attend private schools, where their giftedness can be addressed. We also have found some students leaving for Charter Schools for religious or other philosophical reasons as well as suitablitiy. Some students join the public elementary schools in 3rd or 4th grade after being schooled at home. Charter schools do widen the choice. They wouldn't exist if there wasn't dissatisfaction with the public schools. The same holds true for private schools.
Ines Cifuentes (not verified)

I was the vice president of

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I was the vice president of the Jaime Escalante Public Charter School board (2001-2002) which tried to open the first charter school in Montgomery County, Maryland which is a well to do suburb outside of Washington, DC. We wanted a school where African American and latino students could excel academically. The Montgomery County Public School System does a good job of educating most White and Asian students. It does not do a good job of educating most African American, latino and students who learn differently (special ed). No charter school exists in Montgomery County. From 1994-2005 I worked with teachers and students in the DC Public Schools and observed the growth of charter schools. I learned that much like the regular public schools there are a few excellent charter schools, the majority are mediocre and there are some that should be closed. The KIPP schools are doing a good job of educating poor African American and latino students. I recommend studying closely what KIPP schools do. The Jaime Escalante PCS Board recommended that Montgomery County Public Schools work with KIPP to open a school. Discussions took place but did not get very far.
Sharon Skinner (not verified)

My children both attended a

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My children both attended a local arts focused charter school that has continuously met or exceeded in almost every area of the state tests at almost every grade level. They were exposed to exceptional teachers and had the opportunity to experience a diverse cultural group of fellow students and received more individualized education than they had at the traditional public schools they previously attended. They are now both enrolled in a charter High School, where they continue to be challenged and engaged. And both continue to achieve excellent grades.
Dean M. Warrenfeltz (not verified)

I have worked in the public

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I have worked in the public school system for 24 years. I attended public schools and my daughter attends public schools. I feel that any alternatives to public schools need to be held to the same accountability standards (high stakes testing, etc) if they are going to receive public funds. Resources for education are not abundant. Under the current administration, those funds are falling further behind. I believe that we need to be accountable for the job we do in educating all children. I also believe that it is only fair that all of us who educate those children need to be held to the same accountability. I have not been brainwashed by the education organizations, nor do I have blinders on when it comes to my vocation. Are the public schools perfect? No. Are they the complete failures that many people want to paint them? No. We continue to look for ways to improve the education that we provide our young people. We do need to have the support and resources required to do the job. Private schools, charter schools, or other alternatives don't bother me. They should be available if they meet the needs of some students better than we can. However, we need to realize that the majority of students are still going to attend our public schools. We need to protect public funds from being diverted away from public education.
Carolyn S. Magnuson (not verified)

Oh that there were easy

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Oh that there were easy answers and fixes for the complicated conumdrums presented by life ... and free, public education! As a public school educator for 45 years, I have had the opportunity to observe (and participate in) the best and worst of public education. One evening, during my fourth or fifth year of teaching (late-1960s) a friend (who worked for IBM) and I were discussing management, accountability and the interrelationship of the two processes. I remember remarking (cautiously) that public education (as a whole) was lacking management that supported accountability and accountability that supported management -- and -- without the accountability/management relationship public education would not take responsibility for helping all children learn! Forty years later, we have NCLB and Charter Schools threatening the existence of Public Education. While I believe that, from a budget perspective, Charter Schools drain resources from public schools, I do believe the organizers responded to an educational need exacerbated by our own "head-in-the-sand approach to management and accountability. My wish would have been for all of us in public education to address the "achievement gap" (before Belinda Williams named it) intentionally, systematically, openly and without fear of punishment, loss of funding or public humiliation! There would have been no need for NCLB OR Charter Schools -- because the concept of "differentiated instruction" would be a way of life ... instead, we live with fear of punishment, loss of funding and public humiliation ... Let's embace the CONCEPT of "charter schools" not as a way to escape, but as a proactive part of, public education with a strong commitment to the supportive interrelationship of management and accountability for the learning of all students!
Charles Stansfield (not verified)

The far left and teacher

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The far left and teacher unions have teamed up to oppose charter schools. Since most people receiving this newsletter will be subject to union propaganda, one can expect that the results of the survey will be negative toward charters. On this issue, Edutopia readers constitute a biased sample. Charter schools provide an alternative to traditional public schools. Schools work for some students but not for others. Private schools are not an option for many parents. Charters, which require parents to commit time to the schools, are an alternative for the parents and for the child. Teachers in traditional public schools benefit from this alternative too. Otherwise, they would be subject to more complaints, more educational and discipline problems, and more disgruntled parents.
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