What is a charter school? Educational institution defended by Betsy DeVos
In addition to the local public school and a carefully selected private school, one option that some parents have when deciding where their children will go to school is to send them to a charter school. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a champion of charter schools and school choice in general, but not everyone feels the same, and the mix of educational institutions can often be confusing.
If it is not a private school and not a traditional public school, what is it?
Like a public school, charter schools are funded by the government and a parent does not pay their child’s school fees, according to the Charter School Resource Center. Charter schools, like public schools, also cannot be religious in their operation or affiliation. However, like private schools, students are not assigned to the school based on their place of residence.
In return for government funding and the ability to operate independently, charter schools agree to operate to a certain standard, so their doors remain open based on passing periodic performance reviews.
A performance contract or “charter” describes the key elements of the school, including the mission, curriculum, student enrollment plans, and how performance will be measured.
How are students admitted?
According to the Charter School Resource Center, a student’s admission to a charter school cannot be based on test scores or test scores. In the event that there are too many applicants that the school cannot accommodate, a lottery system is set up.
When were charter schools created?
The first charter school law was passed in 1991 in Minnesota, followed by California in 1992, according to the Charter School Resource Center. As of 2018, 44 states and the District of Columbia had passed laws allowing charter schools to be established.
What does Lebron James have to do with this?
In 2018, basketball star LeBron James opened a charter school in Akron, Ohio. Students at I Promise School are chosen on the basis of a lottery system and must be one or two levels behind in terms of achievement, according to Cincinnati.com. In addition to providing education for children, I Promise School helps provide children with basic needs such as school meals and snacks, supplies, and a longer school day to keep children safe if their parents are not at home.
Why does Betsy DeVos like the idea?
DeVos told CBS News’s Lesley Stahl during a 60 minutes interview that empowering parents to make choices for their children can improve the quality of education in America by leveling the playing field for parents who cannot afford to live in a large school district.
She pointed out that well-off families can move to a better school district, but those who cannot afford to move are stuck.
“I am fighting for parents who don’t have these choices. We need all parents to have these choices,” DeVos said.
DeVos also cited the choice of school as a way to shake up the education system that has failed so many children, according to Politico. DeVos explained that too many failing places redouble their efforts to do things the same way but expect different results. “And as we all know, that’s the definition of insanity,” she added.
What are the arguments in favor?
Along with DeVos, former President Barack Obama applauded charter schools for the education they provide to students who live in poor school districts.
In 2016, Obama proclaimed that a week in April would be National Charter School Week because of the “important role” they play in supporting some of America’s underserved communities. In his proclamation, Obama cited the readiness of schools to develop new methods of educating students, thereby providing high quality education.
“There is a great demand for charter schools in Philadelphia,” said John Swoyer III, CEO of MaST, which stands for Math, Science, and Technology Community Charter School. The Philadelphia Tribune. “I saw that the city has definitely opened up to the idea of choice and that parents like the idea of having the opportunity to attend a MaST school.”
What about those who oppose it?
One argument against charter schools is that they take essential funding away from a school that is already failing. The National Education Association, which represents the teachers’ union, took a stand in 2017 and established a policy to limit charter growth and increase charter accountability.
Another argument against charter schools is that they do not offer enough choice due to the limited number of places available for students. For those students who do not win the lottery, they are often stuck in a failing school.
Do charter schools work?
Much like public schools, there is no definitive answer as to whether charter schools work or not, although the Charter School Resource Center cited a 2013 study that found that charter school students surpassed those of traditional public schools. However, several charter schools have closed due to poor performance.
“The average differences between charter schools as a group and all traditional public schools tend to be small,” the Charter School Resource Center explained. “However, there are more significant differences for specific groups of students and types of charter schools.”
The charter schools debate is part of a larger conversation about school choice, which includes the option for a parent to choose to send their student to a vocational school, get a voucher for a school. private or to opt for another type of educational institution.