Charter schools have recently been becoming more popular due to the different teaching styles, creating a “unique learning environment” which alters the way in which the students learn. “Charter schools are publicly funded, privately managed, and semi-autonomous schools of choice”, which incorporates aspects form both public and private schools. While there are similarities between charter schools and public schools, there are aspects that differ, from having a lottery based entrance system that lowers discrimination, a different teaching standard, a higher success rate due to smaller class sizes, and ways to better help those with disabilities. Although charter schools have a lot to offer, there has been a constant debate pertaining to whether or not charter schools should exists since many think they do not have more to offer than traditional schools. The taking away of students from public schools by charter schools is the main conflict, but charter schools have more advantages since they incorporate a variety of teaching methods, rather than the single state required method for public schools being more beneficial to the students.
With the coming about of more charter schools it is becoming more of an issue why charter schools are necessary and what they really do for students that other schools are not capable of doing. Looking at standardized tests scores, the differences range depending on which grades are being studied. Charter schools test scores have shown an advantage in reading and math within the elementary age, but within the high school level tend to have the same range as those at public schools. Although this is what the tests scores indicate, students do not go to charter schools because of their outstanding tests scores, but rather because of the teaching methods that they incorporate.
Opposed to public schools that are only allotted one way of teaching, charter schools have a multitude of different teaching methods that they are able to implicate into the classroom. There is also a wider variety of academic choices to be made within charter schools. This means that other than just more teaching methods, they incorporate involvement of the student’s families, assessing one another, and using advancements in technology as ways for the students to learn, which public schools do not offer. With many different styles of teaching, it allows every student to be able to find the necessary teaching method that maximizes their learning. It gives students the opportunity to be able to see which way in which they learn best, and then the teachers can take the methods that work best and apply it to their classroom. By doing this, it gets the students more involved because they are actually grasping what is being taught. Teachers at charter schools also have smaller classes so they are able to connect more with the students and be able to help them on a more individual basis.
The smaller class sizes help students have a higher success rate within charter schools by reaching graduation and then attending college. A study has been conducted that shows that 7 to 11 percent of students that attend charter schools have a higher expectation rate to graduate. Having more students who graduate results in a higher percentage continuing their education at a post secondary institution. Ranging from 8-10, this study provides evidence that the majority of students who graduate from charter schools choose to continue their education, unlike some public schools. The increasing number of high school graduates that continue their education after graduation exemplifies “long-term benefits” that charter schools have over public schools. Since charter schools only receive a portion of their funding from the state, they have to rely on other outside sources to help bring in enough money for the school to be able to operate efficiently. Even though these schools receive less money from the state, they take the resources that they do have, teaching the students to value the resources that they are given, resulting in higher achievement rates in certain subjects such as reading and math. With lower costs and advantages over the students in public schools, charter schools prove that they deserve to continuing growing since they are more efficient than public schools in this sense. Relating to achievement rates, charter schools have a higher rate of return than public schools, which consists of “dollars invested in a school, academic achievement and projected lifetime earnings.” This study demonstrates that charter schools are a step above public schools in the way that they operate and have a higher projected rate of post graduation success.
Relating to the fact that charter schools have many different ways of teaching, they also tend to have better programs for the disabled. Having good programs that are beneficial to those who are handicapped make charter schools more accepted by the parents of these children. The branch of charter schools that are especially for special needs students is a non-based-classroom that allows them to study independently. By being in this program, students with disabilities have a teacher that helps them throughout the process of their classes, without the distraction of other students. It allows these students to have more one on one interaction with a teacher that helps them throughout every year that they are in school. For this reason, charter schools have been seeing an increasing amount of disabled students coming to their schools instead of public schools. Less severe disability programs within a charter school also prove to outweigh those of public schools. A study was conducted asking the parents of these children to indicate the advantages of charter schools, and “61% reported more availability of special education services at the charter schools; and 61% reported a higher level of use of special education services.” Charter schools make these programs tie into a student’s everyday life and make them feel as though they are no different than the other students. Also, conducted from this study was that more disabled students have gained motivation within themselves and actually enjoy going to school now after attending a charter school, boosting their attendance rate.
Discrimination has been a main issue of discussion when talking about charter schools. It has been said that many charter schools have no diversity and only pertain to the majority of a certain race; depending on the area that it is located in. This is not to be said of all charter schools though. Since these schools are lottery based, and it doesn’t matter what district a person lives in, it solely depends on where the school itself is located that determines the races that attend the school. Being lottery based, it means that the students are randomly selected to attend the school, making the process non-discriminating. Just like other schools placed in certain areas may be heavily geared towards one race, that does not mean that charter school are singling out students of certain races, it just all has to do with whose name gets drawn in the lottery. With limited resources, charter school students are expected to cover many of their own cost, consisting of school lunches, and transportation to and from school since there is not a bus system and students are not in a specific district, which many argue is discriminating against those with lower incomes. Although this is a good point being made, there are other ways to get around these ways that may be prohibiting students from attending these schools due to financial reasons. There are many easy fixes to these problems such as carpooling, or packing a child lunch. If a student absolutely has no other option to be able to afford food, the school would not let them go hungry. They would find a way in order to make it possible for these students to have a meal at lunch, asking for help from the community, since charter schools are so community based, in order to make this possible. Even though there may be a few more financial obligations within a charter school, the financial standard is much lower than those of private schools. If this small difference in the amount a student has to pay for lunch and transportation is considered discrimination, how do private schools not get blamed for discrimination since their dues are much more substantial.
Charter schools have many advantages over public institutions; even President Obama thinks they make a difference in a student’s education. After assessing charter schools, Obama shows the importance they have on the middle class and how these schools are making a difference in the student’s lives. He expresses that these schools take pride in helping their students achieve their maximum potential, seeing them get accepted and then attending college. Along with helping them with the college process, they go beyond the normality of public schools and guide them along through their college years. These schools have much more to offer than people initially think. If they would take the time to do some research regarding these schools they would come to find out that they have advantages over public schools.