Charter Schools: A Student Perspective

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In modern society students and parents alike are being made aware of the ever growing crisis the American education system is facing. The media, school districts, and top educators are spreading the word that the United States, which once led the charge in global education, is falling way behind. This is a serious problem for not only is it affecting the educational quality of present students, but a failure to highly educate a large portion of the current school age population will prevent progression in the coming years.

With the declining education system in our country, reformers have looked far and wide to develop new methods in order to help the United States get back on track when it comes to the educational success of our students. The institution of charter schools has developed as one positive attempt at reform, yet critics argue that instead of benefiting the school system, these schools are instead harmful. As charter schools are a somewhat new institution, although there is a plethora of statistical data revolving around their success, a lot of it is contradictory which has made it impossible for educative reformers to judge their overall effectiveness. From this uncertainty came a debate regarding the ability of charter schools to educate their students and their affect on traditional education.

In order to fully contemplate the pros and cons of an atypical form of education that is available to students, one must understand what a charter school is and how it functions. In essence a charter school is just a different type of public school that is free from the common regulations and rules set by state governments in which the administrators can choose any way to educate their students. To their supporters they are often seen as a positive site of educational reform because charter schools can test and evaluate new educational methods and techniques to see if they are beneficial to students’ success before they are put into place or barred from traditional schools. Teachers have more freedom to experiment with different learning styles within the classroom without having to worry about government regulation. This freedom not only provides the teachers with the ability to teach in whatever manner they choose, but it also allows them to tailor their classes to best fit the educational needs of their students. Without the demands of government regulation, curriculums are able to encompass more actual learning as the need for rigorous preparation for standardized testing is not required. This allows students the possibility to absorb more information, and teachers to focus on topics in which their students are truly interested.

Even though they are not regulated by the state, charter schools are publically owned which means the money needed to keep the school open comes from the state government. A common misconception regarding charter schools is that they are funded by for-profit companies or through student tuition, but in reality they are just a different category of public schools which are funded in the exact same manner. Similar to more traditional schools, charter schools are funded by the district in which they inhabit, as well as the state, based on the schools ADA . ADA stands for average daily attendance and refers to the amount of kids enrolled in each school. Because charter schools are independent of many state regulations a lot of opponents feel that they are simply privatized schools which have taken advantage of the state. A document released by the Florida Department of Education stated that Florida charter schools, unlike traditional schools in the state, are exempt from the Florida K-20 Education Code which dictates the allowable behaviors and practices of primary schools through high schools. In Florida and the rest of country, people are against limited regulation for they see it as these schools receiving “special privileges” as they are allowed to bend the rules. To these individuals the fact that the government doesn’t take more of an interest in holding charter schools to the same regulations, means that they support inequality in educational opportunity. In reality by having relaxed regulation, charter schools are able to better initiate experimental education methods in order to try and promote educational success. According to an article posted on the Issues & Controversies On File online database, many opponents also fault the government for allowing traditional school funding to go to charter schools, which could have been used to better the existing schools in the state rather than create schools which they have limited control over .This however is not the case, because if governments felt that the institution of these schools was a waste of state money, meaning alternative schools were not producing enough positive results to be worthwhile, then they simply would cease to allow their existence. These feelings just stem out of parent anger for decreased annual educational budgets due to money being diverted to charter schools. They see this government spending as ‘wasteful’ simply because they would rather see money go to adding more programs and facilities to their own schools than to the establishment of new ones.

Whether one is a supporter or an opponent of the establishment of charter schools, whether or not a family wishes to send their children to a charter to school instead of to traditional public school is a personal choice. Especially in an environment in which students today are greatly pressured into balancing high academic performance, athleticism, volunteerism, a job and individuality in order to be accepted into a good university, the institution of charter schools not only act as a new way to tackle the educational problems of our decade, but also allows students the chance to make choices regarding their education and their future when they are typically forced down a standard path with little variability.





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