Public School vs Charter School, which one is the best for my child?
Today was my first day as an Instructional Aide at a public middle school. It feels good to have a (almost) full time job after more than two years of unemployment. Even though I spent the past year working as a substitute teacher it still didn’t give the safety net to know exactly how much money I was going to bring home in the end of the month so to have this job now it’s certainly a relief for me and my family.
There has been some debate in the past few years about the real efficiency of charter school over their public counterparts and I’d like to bring up some points of view and obviously ask you all to pinch in your opinion as well.
But what exactly are charter schools?
Well, in very simple words a charter school is a cross-breed between a private and a public school. But that’s in VERY SIMPLE WORDS.
Charter schools are free, just like public schools. They receive public money – which means they’re funded in part by taxpayers – and also private donations but are not subject to the same restrictions as traditional public schools. For example, charter schools have more freedom than public schools when it comes to hiring and firing teachers; they don’t have to follow state-approved curriculum; and they are able to decide how long their school days and years will be.
Some recent criticism from opponents to the growth in the number of charter school across the US is the fact that by virtue of their autonomy, they can be vulnerable to financial turmoils and mismanagement. Indeed, the fiscal arrangements of charters can be inherently problematic, in part because, in many states, charters’ access to facilities and start-up funds is limited.
In 2009 there about 4,600 charter schools in the United States spread among 40 of the 50 states serving around 1.4 million students. I’m pretty sure we’ll find among these numbers some excellent institutions and some that would be considered bad even in a third world country.
On the positive side, charter schools provide an option for families that are looking for a different approach in education. Many charter school focus their curriculum on specific areas (mathematics, science, language arts…) while others offer a more general education. Either way charter school can also help educators who have experience and expertise but don’t meet government requirements to teach in a public school get a job. I’m a good example of that. I’m a bachelor in social communications with a degree in journalism, I have taught English as a second language in Brazil for 10 years however, I don’t have a teaching credential which prevents me from getting a teaching job (reason why I’m working as an instructional aide).
Education in the US faces some real challenges. We could be on our path for losing the status of most powerful nation in the world and one of the solutions for this serious issue is the level of knowledge our next generations will have. We’ll need to form leaders with world vision. Leaders that can clearly understand that America is more than just corporations, political disputes, Hollywood and junk food.
Constant and unbiased evaluations can help government assess the efficiency of charter schools. The one who are doing a great job will get their contracts renewed, the bad ones should receive an intervention or, in extreme cases, be shut down.
Public schools also need to be constant checked and improved. Teachers need to be motivated and receive frequent feedback and training. That’s one area that we can’t spare efforts. Education is the future of this country.
SOME MORE READING ON THIS:
Charter schools pros & cons: http://www.ecs.org/html/issuesection.asp?issueid=20&s=pros+%26+cons
The NY Daily News | The charter school problem: http://goo.gl/qeBNj
Wikipedia | Charter Schools: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_school
Private Schools vs Public Schools | http://www.greatschools.org/find-a-school/defining-your-ideal/59-private-vs-public-schools.gs
but are not subject to the same restrictions as traditional public schools. For example, charter schools have more freedom than public schools when it comes to hiring and firing teachers; they don’t have to follow state-approved curriculum; and they are able to decide how long their school days and years will be.