Are Charter Schools Really Any Better than Public Schools

by Project Censored

According to the article, Charter Schools and the Future of Public Education, by Stan Karp, there is no difference in cognitive achievement when comparing charter school and non-charter school students. Also, teachers in charter schools are paid significantly less and are often much more likely to become discouraged and quit their positions. In contrast, administrative staff of charter schools have no salary cap and are often paid much higher wages than that of public school administrators.

In addition, charter schools lack fiscal transparency due to the fact that charter schools rely on private donations made by corporations and individuals. The article also maintains that charter schools are a return to a segregated educational system because they focus on grooming a select few children for success while leaving others in public schools neglected. Moreover, the main point Karp’s piece tries to convey is that there has been no considerable evidence proving that charter schools are superior to public schools. Karp’s piece ultimately leads one to question if charter schools are worth the extra cost, considering that they promote stratification among students, promote massive amounts of fiscal inequality among teachers and administrators, and support an educational environment that favors the interests of the institution and its administrative staff instead of its pupils.

Sources:

Erickson, Ansley T. “The Rhetoric of Choice: Segregation, Desegregation, and Choice.” Editorial. RE-Imagining Education Reform. Dissent Magazine, Fall 2011. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2013.

Karp, Stan. “Charter Schools and the Future of Public Education.” Rethinking Schools: Of Mice and Marginalization Fall 2013: n. pag. Rethinking Schools. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2013. <http://www.rethinkingschools.org/ProdDetails.asp?ID=RTSVOL28N1>.

Student Researcher: Jordan Monterosso, Indian River State College

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
ETHICS ALERT

One ethical problem that clearly arises out of the implementation of charter schools is that of segregation and inequality. One of the goals of a charter school is to provide an innovative and expansive educational experience to its students. One could argue that this goal is to simply isolate and manipulate for success a small group of already elite children. The enrollment process provides evidence of segregation, Ansley Erickson notes, “Charter admissions practices respect for the jurisdictional boundaries that separate city districts from suburban ones or wealthier from poorer suburbs.” However, charter schools have no rules against enrolling students from outside the district, but time and time again it can be witnessed that those living within the district are given priority acceptance. To illustrate this ethical issue of segregation in charter schools, say for instance a student of color living in a lower income neighborhood applies for enrollment to a new charter school, one that focuses on providing its students with training for a future in the field of digital media productions. The issue: the charter school is located outside the student of color’s district, in a predominantly white neighborhood. As a result, the student’s application is to no avail because priority is given to those students living in the predominantly white area where the charter school is located.

Furthermore, charter schools have a way of reinforcing inequality by the system of tracking and grooming that they promote. For example, assume that a charter school opens in an area that is close to an existing public school. The charter school then attracts the attention of a select few students, unjustly deemed as individuals who are more likely to succeed. When these students are lured away from public education facilities for charter schools, segregation becomes much more apparent. The students left in the public schools will find themselves in a less culturally diverse environment, surrounded by students of similar socioeconomic status. The same can be said of the students enrolled in charter schools; these pupils will notice that their learning environment will lack ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity. Not to mention, the charter school students will also be deprived of the opinions and thought processes of individuals from alternative backgrounds.

Not only are students being treated unethically by the charter school system, those employed as educators have been the recipients of a multitude of unethical actions. As noted by Karp, “charters have become part of a campaign to create a less stable, less secure, and less expensive teaching staff.” The inequality endured by charter school educators is nowhere more evident than when one looks at how much less they are paid in comparison to public school educators. Overall, this inequality faced by the teachers of charter schools can have a serious impact on that of their students. If teachers are consistently feeling downtrodden by their unjust working conditions and low salaries, this can adversely affect their students. The low morale of the charter school educators can negatively affect their students because it can lead to an extremely high turnover rate. This high turnover rate can, in turn, create instability in the classroom and taint the educational atmosphere.

Accordingly, one could argue that charter schools receive far too much false praise in the media. Far too many individuals fail to realize that these schools promote unjust treatment of educators, unfairly favor administrators, and creating an inequality gap among the youth being educated. Charter schools are a fountainhead of ethical issues in the present day educational system, a source of actions based in self-interest employed by bureaucrats for the advancement of few at the expense of the many.