To Charter or Not to Charter?

After working in the school furnishing industry for a little while, you start to notice a few trends in sales and where they are coming from. When dealing with public schools, often times you speak with teachers who say they would love to purchase that Copernicus learning cart but unfortunately due to the economy and the amount of snow days they had this year, there was a significant budget freeze and they were unable to purchase at that time.

My mom is a teacher and while visiting her classroom and seeing some of the antiquated classrooms that were exactly the same when I was there 10-15 years ago, it raises the question…does the government support public school enough, and would it make more sense to send a child to a private school? It goes without saying that public schools have always clamored for better funding, stretching every dollar they have into being able to provide a substantial education for the kids of local towns. The one thing I think politicians forget is that these public schools take up the overwhelming majority of where students go to learn, while private schools are only a minute fraction. These schools are the training ground for the future of our country, one of these kids in these underfunded schools will eventually grow up to be president, or a famous author, or scientist, yet there doesn’t seem to be a rush to help. To me education is far more important than any war or bill on health-care, and the purpose of this blog is not to be political, but let’s look at some stats:

  • Ranked 9th in the world for Adult literacy
  • Ranked 12th in student reading ability
  • Ranked 26th in student critical thinking ability
  • Ranked 19th in student science scores
  • Ranked 24th in student math scores

I personally think its unacceptable that America isn’t in the top 5 for every one of those categories, especially when every politician running for office scream of the importance of education, yet once elected, there is barely a whisper. I’ve always been a proponent of working out our issues first before worrying about the issues of other countries, before help anyone else we need to help ourselves.

One thing I didn’t know about until coming to work for US Markerboard was the existence of Charter Schools. These schools are sort of a hybrid between private and public schools. They receive public money like other schools, but also receive private donations. Charter Schools also have a different standard of rules as well. Some would say they aren’t as strict, however they forced to maintain a certain level of result that is stated in their school charter (oooh that’s where the name comes from!)

Charter School

A Map of the Expanding world of Charter Schools

State-authorized charters are often established by non-profit groups, universities, and even some government entities. I was even surprised to hear that some charter schools are founded by teachers, parents, or activists who feel their public school system is failing. Often times charter schools have a small staff, leaving the principal and the teachers to take care of even the administrative aspects of running a school. On Friday our guest blogger Doug Hering, will talk about how charter schools can find ways to minimize those duties and concentrate on the important things, like teaching.

As a student of a private high school, a charter schools sounds an awful lot like a private school, but what’s the difference? It’s free to join. Charter schools are free for students but offer a curriculum not required by the state, think of it like a private school and public school hybrid.

However this raises a question on whether this is hurting or hindering the country’s education system. Charter schools are prevalent in 40 states, some states with higher frequencies than others. This means in 40 states, the funding between public and charter schools are split, which raises the question of whether or not it’s simply better for the education system if there were only one to maintain all of the funding for the betterment of the student body. It’s an interesting question, but I think the creation of charter schools is a hint that perhaps the government can do better with how we train teachers, and how we grant out funding.

What do you think?

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  1. [...] April 16, 2010 Justin Miller Leave a comment Go to comments As you may recall we talked about the growing trend in Charter Schools on Wednesday. In that article we discussed one of the obstacles plaguing charter schools and even [...]



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