America’s Failing Public Schools: Charter Schools Are Not the Solution

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America’s Failing Public Schools: Charter Schools Are Not the Solution


It was with wild fanfare that the state’s Republican legislature and Republican Governor enacted their reforms for the state’s public school system. Among the panaceas was charter schools, a ‘90s education fad that gives individual parents the right to send their children to state-approved public charter schools at public expense. Politicians reasoned that less-bureaucratic charter schools would teach students better than traditional public schools because charter schools wouldn’t be subject to the same mandates that the state had heaped upon public schools. Furthermore, traditional schools would be forced to compete with charter schools as they lured thousands
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Charter schools are aimed at giving parents and educators greater freedom to design an educational program aimed at increasing student achievement, accounting for greater freedom of contract between not only parent and school but also school and state.

There are a number of ways that charter schools give parents greater individual control over their childrens’ education. No longer is a child bound to attend a particular school based on the geographical location of his or her home. Parents have the freedom to select a charter school that they feel would best suit the needs of their children1. Parents also have a greater say in the affairs of charter schools compared to public schools. In many instances, parents serve on the “board of education” governing the charter school, a board whose context is determined by a school’s charter and not state law. This contrasts with the traditional public school board that is limited to seven members elected from the community-at-large, regardless of whether board members have children in school. Moreover, a charter school board is entirely occupied with the operations of just one school instead of an entire district. Charter school supporters argue that this leads to less bureaucracy and greater efficiency in creating school policy that ultimately benefits students.

The…