Charter Schools: Where will your child go to school?

The first charter school in the United States was opened in Minnesota in 1992. Charter schools where meant to be an alternative to public schools; a school that was privately operated and publicly funded. The Charter schools original mission was to experiment with different approaches to education and share successful findings with other schools. Many say that this is not happening at all on either an annual basis or ever.
Through the years Charter Schools have been scrutinized and compared to public schools. It seems that charters have become a political battleground where money takes precedent over education. Opponents to charter schools claim that; Charter schools will not fix the public education woes, but instead it will “thin the pot of money”. But others claim that when students transfer schools that the money follows the student so that there is not an issue of money.
There was a study in 2013 by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) that found that most kids in most charter schools are doing worse or no better than students in traditional public schools and one third are doing better. They found that there are gains among African Americans, Latinos and kids whose first language is not English. These students are getting 3 to 10 weeks more of instruction compared to their public school counterparts. But opponents say that these studies did not compare real kids to real kids; use of ‘virtual twin’ used to survey.
Two quotes that caught my eye are as follows:
“One of the primary reasons that American Society supports public schools is to give everyone a solid civic education; the sort of education that comes from learning together with others from different backgrounds.” Diane Ravitch, education historian
“The reality is that most new immigrants become isolated in public schools and that large numbers of them become alienated over time and fails to graduate.” Dr. Suarez-Orozco
On the one hand we want to support schools that bring together students from all backgrounds and cultures. But at what expense; if their needs are not being met then we must make changes. But are charter schools the answer; they are based on a lottery system that picks and chooses students. I believe they try to integrate all those that apply but that’s one of the problems; families that do not have access to information due to language or economic barriers do not get the information and they may be the very ones who need it. One of my biggest problems with charter schools is accessibility or the lack of. To be honest I sent my child to a charter school for one year prior to kindergarten. When I looked at our neighborhood school at the time I was shocked by how unsafe it was; they students were not allowed to wear certain colors due to gang violence. I thought hard about what I would do in the next school year; public vs. charter. In the end I did not have to choose because I moved 400 miles away but I get the debate surrounding our schools. We all want a safe place that our children can grow and learn to their fullest potential. If we believe that our public school cannot fulfill that do we take a chance and send them there anyway or do we look for alternatives such as charter schools. Where do are kids go to school?


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