The Diversity of Charter Schools vs. the Formality of Public Schools

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School environments have a huge impact on the success of students. Charter schools are public schools that operate with freedom from some of the regulations that are imposed upon district schools. Most charter schools have a more intimate atmosphere when it comes to classroom sizes. In some states, charter schools serve significantly higher percentages of minority or low-income students than the traditional public schools. This means a charter school can serve as an outlet for students who have failed in the traditional public school environment.

The battle between public and charter schools affects all of our nation, because with more options for schooling that expansion of charter schools would bring, there should be a difference in overall graduation rates.

Smaller class sizes make a big difference for a lot of individuals. Some students have an inability to focus and learn when in a class of twenty plus students. Charter schools offer more one on one attention which is crucial to a lot of students success. Students who are struggling are less likely to be overlooked, and teachers can come into class every day with a fresh memory of who is having difficulty in which areas. The Center for Educational Performance and Information, or CEPI, published state government data for the 2010-2011 school year stating that charter schools had an average of 16.2 students per instructional employee, versus 18.5 in conventional schools.

With charter schools comes more curriculum flexibility. Traditional public schools usually use the method of “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to teaching styles, and usually implement just the basic subjects into their lessons of which they are required. Most charter schools have the independence to have more unconventional classes and teaching styles. This is important because without exploring these untraditional topics in schools, students can easily become less engaged and less motivated. Some examples of unique classes that many charter schools offer include college preparation, dual language immersion, performing arts, math, science, technology and much more.

Opponents of the expansion of charter schools, such as President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association Barbara Madeloni, state that “an ‘attack’ in the form of ballooning charter school openings would affect the viability of traditional public schools in all corners of the state.” According to the RAND Organization, after several studies, there is still little evidence that the presence of charter schools affects the achievement scores of students in nearby traditional public schools either positively or negatively. Therefore, there is virtually no evidence to support her claim. Though, there is a lot of evidence stating the success and achievement of students who have transferred from public to charter schools.

Other than opponent’s belief that charter schools drain public school students of their academic success, it is also argued that charter schools take away from funding that can go toward public schools. With many public schools in our nation being underfunded, this could be an issue. Though this is not the case.

Parents of students attending charter schools are being held to a double standard, and are being blamed for the so-called “underfunding” of public schools. In reality, charter schools do not drain money because this money does not belong to the schools in the first place. The district spends money on a student’s education who is being enrolled in a charter school, and that money follows them to the charter school they attend. It is equivalent to if a student’s family moved from Lowell to Boston. It is unlikely that the opponents of charter schools also would argue that this student’s transfer is draining money from the Lowell Public Schools.

Our current public schools are dismaying too many students and parents. More options for students who do not align with the margins of public school restrictions are needed for greater overall academic success. Each student’s needs must be met, and many of those needs are unique. A standard classroom and traditional set of courses, unfortunately, does not aid each student in excelling.

Some kids need an outlet, more one on one attention, and some just need more relaxed courses in their daily schedule that keep them focused. If charter schools were expanded in America, we would see a greater amount of students succeed and much lower drop-out rate. It’s simple; students who are more engaged in school, have courses that genuinely  interest them, and feel comfortable with their classroom atmosphere, are going to attend school more and are going to see a spike in their grades and overall success.

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