Saturday, March 06, 2004

Charter Schools: Are They Needed? Looking at Both Sides of the Debate

Charter Schools: Are They Needed? Looking at Both Sides of the Debate. I know which side of the debate I am on here. My job is on the line. Libraries get cut first when funding drys up.

From the site:

Most reform concepts work by making changes within schools. However, a newer reform idea works by creating entirely new schools. The charter school movement seeks to improve public school by creating new, rival, and competing public schools. The hope is that competition for students will force public schools to improve. However, many do not believe the free market will actually bring this about and may actually harm public schools. Despite the relative newness of the charter concept, the ideas behind it are not new and an examination of education literature can shed a lot of light on the concept.

Description of charter schools

The pro-charter school group, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), defines on their web page that, "Charter Schools are public schools-free and open to all. They are started by interested parents, educators, and business and community leaders. Each school is created with its own unique curricula and is licensed by a school district, community college or, most often, a state university."

The mostly anti-charter National Education Association, (NEA) furthers the definition by writing on their web site, "These school are deregulated, autonomous and independent of the rules and regulations that govern traditional schools…The theory that underlies the charters is that such freeing of some public schools will hasten educational innovation, improve student achievement, create greater parental involvement, and promote improvement of public education in general. And the theory follows that if there's no educational improvement, the school will be held accountable and the school's charter won't be renewed."

A description of the charter school concept can be constructed including both of the above descriptions and using other sources. Charter schools are public schools that are free from some, but not all, of the regulations that govern most public schools. Any person or group may start their own public school if they can get a charter from an approving educational institution, which is normally a state university. These schools, which are free from many regulations and teachers unions, can attempt to innovate curriculum and learning in ways that traditional public schools can not or will not try.


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