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Charters and Choice

How can we give students options when their public schools are failing them?

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Charters and Choice

The public school system does not meet the needs of all its students. Education reformers promote school choice to create a more competitive atmosphere for schools and offer families the option to pursue an academic experience that better educates their children. The two most common reforms are charter schools and voucher programs.

charters and choice
         
  Vouchers  

Voucher plans allow parents to take the money allocated for their children in the public system to pay for tuition at a private or parochial school.

Pros
Choice. Creates options for students and families who otherwise would not have access to these specialized or more academically rigorous schools.
Competition. Challenges the public schools to meet the needs of their students, since the students (and their funding) can leave if they are unsatisfied.
Reliability. Provides access to already well-established educational institutions

Cons
Funding. Drains money from the public school system.
Loss of families. Removes proactive families with more involved parents from the public schools.
Lack accountability. Private schools are not held to the same standards as public schools.
Not a solution. Does not attempt to improve the public schools, and limits access to those private schools who self-select to participate in the voucher program.

 

Charter Schools

 
 

Charters are independent public schools that have been approved by the state but that fall outside district management. They are required to meet state standards but are not bound by district regulations. They have complete autonomy over their funding, which is provided by the state based on student enrollment.

Pros
Choice. Offers an abundance of options for families.
Creativity. Encourages innovative reforms, allowing schools to pursue alternative missions in education (such as culturally relevant or interdisciplinary curriculum, or a focus on a specific subject area) and allocate funding as they see fit.
Passion. Attracts passionate teachers and leaders committed to the school’s mission.
Evidence-based success. Schools which do not meet state standards get their charters revoked.

Cons
Waste. Schools which get shut down are a waste of resources and have failed to educate students up to standards.
Funding. Creates competition between schools within districts over resources.
Fewer resources. Charter schools receive less money from the state per pupil than regular district schools.
Accountability.
Because states cannot regulate charter schools, there is no standardization for what is taught.

 
 

More Info

 
 

To be redirected to a PBS FAQ sheet on charter schools: http://www.pbs.org/closingtheachievementgap/faq.html

To learn more about voucher programs: http://www.schoolchoiceinfo.org/

To be redirected to a website sponsored by School Choice Wisconsin. To read in depth about how vouchers have worked since 1990 in Milwaukee, one of the first cities to implement them: http://www2.jsonline.com/news/choice/

And for the NPR blog: http://www.npr.org/blogs/news/2008/02/obama_on_education_for_charter.html

 
   
  See presidential candidate perspectives on this subject