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Kendall ONeill Megan Keaton Eng 112 22 April 2013 Charter Schools: Helping or Hurting the Public Education System The Center for Research on Education Outcomes or CREDO proved that the vast majority of charter schools perform at the same level or worse than their traditional counter parts. While these schools continue to fail, they take important resources from the existing public school. The dwindling amount of resources like funding, qualified teachers and eager students cause public schools to teach in worse environments, making charters appear better. The children of today will be the adults of tomorrow and it is imperative that they have a strong education for a hopeful future. Charter schools and traditional public schools are playing a dangerous game of tug-of-war. Charters continue to receive federal funding while traditional public schools funding has been drastically cut across the nation. In this paper, I will show the appeal of charter schools. I will then show how they are hurting the public education system. Finally, I will show the reader how this can be settled neutrally by keeping the successful charter programs around while filtrating out the weak ones. Charter schools started about 20 years ago with the first one in Minnesota. They were created as an educational experiment. The teachers didnt have to follow strict guidelines on what to teach, how to teach it, and how long to spend on a subject. Teachers had the freedom to teach as they saw best fit with the promise of producing high test scores. This freedom gave teachers the ability to try new innovative ways of teaching and teach by exploring through students creativity. The only restriction they had was that they had to produce strong results, high test scores, or the charter would end and the school would close. Charters are well liked

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because they rely on high amounts of community involvement with the community and parents of the students. Parents are consulted with opening, managing and upkeep of the school. Parents are asked to help with school fundraisers and most importantly in the involvement of their childs every day school work. The downfall and reason all students cant attend these desirable schools is because there arent enough of them. Students who attend these schools have been chosen randomly through a lottery. Most students wont have the opportunity to attend them even if they have been on the wait list for years. As of 2009, more than 4700 charter schools enrolled over 1.4 million children in 40 states and the District of Columbia. The ranks of charters grow by hundreds each year. Even so, more than 365,000 names linger on the charter school wait lists. (Raymond) The desire to attend charter schools are higher than ever before. With NCLB Act 2001 parents and students had the opportunity to leave their failing schools or drop out factories and attend charter schools or use vouchers to attend better schools that werent in their district. This choice made parents feel as if they were more in control over the education their child would receive. There are a couple of charter programs that have proved to produce results much higher than those of their traditional schools counterparts. Those are the ones that capture headlines or show up on 60 minutes: Harlem Academy, KIPP, Achievement First, Uncommon Schools, Aspire, MATCH, and Preuss schools. (Morris) KIPP is a rigorous course that truly challenges kids and produces strong results. KIPP students have an extended school day and go from 7:30 5, they attend Saturday school, they attend mandatory summer school for three weeks and they receive two hours of homework a night. (Smith) Mathew Di Carlo at the Albert Shanker Institute estimates that the successful charter school year is 2-4 months longer than that of traditional public schools.(Morris) With this extended school year, teachers have more time to

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focus on their students. They can spend more time on subjects the class may be struggling with and they have more time to focus on individual students. In 2004, 85% of KIPP alumni who were seniors in high school were accepted to a university or college. (Smith) The percentage of KIPP students that go off to college in comparison with students that attend the local neighborhood schools shows a vast difference. However most students that will enroll in the KIPP program will not finish it. It is estimated that about 60% of KIPP students will drop out during the course of middle school. (Strauss) In reality KIPP students drop out more than they finish the program. Even with the number of kids dropping out, KIPP rarely allows students to enter in the 7th or 8th grade because in the later grades, KIPP students are surrounded only by successful peers who are the most committed to the program. (Strauss) KIPP may be able to produce higher test scores and higher percentages for students going off to college but they are false, misguided statistics.

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While some charters are efficient they most certainty arent all efficient. 17 percent, provide superior education opportunities for their students. Nearly half of the charter schools nationwide have results that are no different from the local public school options and over a third, 37 percent, deliver learning results significantly worse that their students would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools (Raymond) So, while most of these schools dont educate better than those of their traditional counter parts, they continue to take important resources the public education system needs. They take large amounts of funding, some of the most dedicated teachers and students nationwide are on a waiting list hoping to gain entry this coming school year. Author said, While voting to cut $11 billion out of federal education funding for fiscal year 2011 (including cuts in Title 1, the Striving Readers program, literacy, teacher quality, math and science, and education technology, as well as special and vocational and adult education), the U.S House of Representation found the money to maintain charter and choice funding (FullYear Continuing Appropriations Act, 201)(Qtd in Harvey). The U.S government opted to cut an unbelievable amount out of public education funding but found money to continue the failing charter program. Writer David Morris for On the Commons magazine said it best when he describes the charter program to that of kudzu. An invasive plant that takes over the preexisting plants and smothers them. The cycle feeds on itself. More charters mean less money for public school; the more public education deteriorates, the greater the popularity and number of charter schools. (Morris) We are essentially hurting ourselves with charters rather than helping. Teachers are also drawn to charter schools. They are un-unionized so teachers can receive higher pays with rising test scores. The teachers must do more work and teach longer days but they receive help from teacher aides. Teacher aids will sit with struggling students one on one or

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in small groups to give additional help. They will also help teacher with their lesson plans. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) So what can we do to help our public education system? Compromising with everyone is the easiest way to settle this long debated topic. We must get ride of the failing charter schools. They cause the most damage to our public education system and they make up 37 percent of all charter schools. We will keep the charter schools that performing the same as the traditional public schools. We can then talk with the U.S Department of Education, school boards, school districts and superintendents and come to a compromise about infiltrating our public schools and existing mediocre charter schools with the programs from our successful charters. This move will be radical and many people will be against it but it will be the best thing for the public education system. With the end of charters and return to traditional public schools, students around the country have the ability to attend these high performing schools without having to be waitlisted or go through the lottery. Also, with the end of charters all the misguided funding can return to traditional public schools. There will be more money for teacher quality, the focus on core subject like math and science and the ability to purchase new equipment and resources. This will be an expensive transformation, however, if higher test scores nationwide can be achieved, money should be no issue.

ONeill 6 Work Cited: Harvey, James. "Privatization: A Drain on Public Schools." EBSCO Host. EBSCO Host, Dec. 2011. Web. <http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.cpcc.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=f2230e38-1c2d-4fb0-8244 4e41c3d66554%40sessionmgr198&hid=4&bdata=JnNjb3BlPXNpdGU%3d#db=a9h&AN=67664426>. Raymond, Margaret, Dr. Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States Executive Summary. Rep. N.p.: CREDO.stanford.edu, 2009. CREDO.stanford.edu. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/MULTIPLE_CHOICE_EXECUTIVE%20SUMMARY.pdf>. Clark, Charles S. "Charter Schools Will They Imporove or Hurt Public Education." CQ Research. CQ Press, 20 Dec. 2002. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://library.cqpress.com.ezproxy.cpcc.edu/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2002122000&ty pe=hitlist&num=0>. Morris, David. "After 20 Years, Charter Schools Stray From Their Original Mission." After 20 Years, Charter Schools Stray From Their Original Mission. On the Commons Magazine, 7 Aug. 2012. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/after-20-years-charter-schools-stray-theiroriginal-mission>. Smith, Hendrick. "Schools by School Reform KIPP." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. <http://www.pbs.org/makingschoolswork/sbs/kipp/>. Strauss, Valerie. "The Answer Sheet -." The Answer Sheet -. The Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. "Summary." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.