What’s so bad about charter schools?
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Amid the growing fight between public and charter schools, 2017 has seen several charter schools across the country face legal scrutiny for the way they are run — events that have done nothing to help their cause. As a result, the NAACP has geared up to battle with education reformers by passing a resolution that calls for a moratorium on the growth of charter schools because they don't believe "reform" is at the center of their focus.
For years now, public education supporters have complained that charter schools divert resources away from traditional public school systems. The appointment of Betsy DeVos, a longtime charter school advocate, as Secretary of Education has given this movement a new sense of urgency.
NAACP leaders have traveled across the country, spending time listening to both the proponents and opponents of charter schools. Their detailed report, set for release later this month, is expected to showcase the real problems of the charter school system and why they consider it a failure.
The nation's oldest civil rights organization has sought to eradicate segregation from the education system — and they say charter schools are promoting a form of discrimination.
The NAACP found inequities in the way the system functioned. While places like Tennessee show promise, the system seems to be quite broken in cities like Detroit and New Orleans. It has made them realize the charter schools bring no positive contribution to fixing the problems of public education.
They found that the charter school system does nothing to help children with disabilities and discipline problems. They are also not as accountable and transparent as they are expected to be.
Instances of such problems include the North Carolina charter board's recent recommendation to close a Durham charter high school. Reports of diploma issues arose when it was uncovered that 40 percent of the graduates had received diplomas without earning the proper credits for it.
San Diego's Gompers Preparatory Academy faced similar issues like grade inflation, and pressuring and intimidating teachers to pass failing students. While most are bothered about the lack of integrity, former students stated how unprepared they were for the academic rigors of college. The fact that the school marketed itself on its college-preparedness, this is dampening news for many parents in the area.
Charter schools began with the hope to change the system and become labs of innovation, but they have become a source of more confusion and contention. They do not complement the public school system and, in fact, worsen their situation by diverting funds away from kids who need it most.
While most are meant to be not-for-profit, some have designed themselves to be virtual and for-profit — and they prioritize those profits over providing enrichment. Some charter schools have been accused of cherry-picking the best students, and some for being racially segregated as well.
These are serious charges, especially in the light of how they are draining the already depleted resources for public education. Charter school leaders, however, have contended that targeting them will not fix the deep-rooted problems of the public schools.
They say charter schools have proven to be high-performing schools that have provided meaningful academic benefits for all deserving students, including disadvantaged ones. Some have even cited surveys that show that African-American parents and those from low-income backgrounds prefer charter schools for their children since it gives them the choice of a better school.
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