The American School/Charter vs. Public Schools

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History of Charter and Public Schools[edit | edit source]

In 1991 the first charter school law in Minnesota was approved; the school was developed according to three basic values: choice, opportunity, and responsibility for results. By 1995 there were 19 states that adopted the charter school law. However, the term “charter” was believed to have originated in the 1970s by an educator named Ray Budde. He suggested that a small group of teachers be given contracts to facilitate new approaches by the local school board. In Philadelphia in the late 1980s, there were a number of schools-within-schools called "charters”, which were referred to as choice schools. Public education was in existence in the 1600s in the New England colonies; however, the national system of education was not started until the 19th century when Jefferson suggested an education system. He wanted public education to be under the control of the government, free from religious biases and available to all people no matter their social status. As of 2006, there were 4,000 charter schools opened in the United States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; however, there are 10 states yet to have a charter school law passed.

Purpose of the Charter School[edit | edit source]

Charter schools operate in a different manner than traditional public schools. All charter schools seem to have the same purpose. The main purpose is having an alternative means within the public school system in to increase innovation in learning creative ways outside the traditionalism of the public system. Another purpose is having the teachers, both new in the system and ones that have experience, be responsible for their own education program and teaching methods. Teachers and student both get the opportunity to explore new ways of learning through education this system.

Charter schools are the fastest growing innovation resulting from education policy to challenge the public schools notion. Chartering sometimes caters to the needs of the community by providing after school activities and programs to keep the student connected to the instructors while increasing their performance in academics and to aid in keeping students out of trouble with authority. For example Drew Charter School in Atlanta, Georgia is attached to their local YMCA program that serves the physical education for the school.

Differences in state laws bring wide diversity in the organization, operation, and philosophies of charter schools. Some states give charter schools considerable autonomy, while other states exercise more control. The charter sponsor may be a school district, college or university, state education agency, teachers, parents, or other community members.

Pros and Cons of Charter School[edit | edit source]

A study done by Stanford University found that charter schools on average perform about the same or better compared to public schools.[1]

There are many benefits to attending a charter school, one main benefit is that innovative systems allow for a unique way of educating. Because of school choice the parent and the student are more likely to be involved in the commitment to the school. Another pro to a charter school is the competition. Charter schools must work to maintain their academic performance, student’s retention, and finances. Another pro to charter schools act as a catalyst for improvement of the public system. One common con to charter schools is that they are funded by the government. Nevertheless, they have the potential of closing if they don’t make the numbers in the areas mentioned above. And finally the biggest debate with charter schools is that they do a better job of reaching students than public schools, because of their style of teaching and educating. The charter schools system allows for teachers to be creative in their own work. Along with the environment being welcoming and encouraging to both the parents and students there are a few downsizes to the of charter school for example the financial jeopardy the school could fall under or even potential of not making numbers. Either way it goes the pros and cons challenge people to do a true comparison of the school system they would put their children into. See a video clip at:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Schools[edit | edit source]

Ever since the 19th century, public education was the main foundation of education for children. Just like charter schools, public schools have advantages and disadvantages to their system. First and foremost public education is free, since taxes pay for the child’s education. Another advantage of public schools are the various extracurricular activities, trained personnel/administration, and offering of scholarships and continual education to college. Public education also offers transportation to and from school that is hard to come by in charter schools. The few example of advantages expressed indicate that public education has been providing students with an equal amount of thumbs up whether then thumbs down for the education.

One disadvantage to public school is that parents’ don’t have a say in the curriculum because of the general standard set by the government as a result innovative thinking is squashed. Another disadvantage is the large classroom sizes that can be disturbing to the student in need of the extra attention and to teachers that desire to reach all their students. One pro and con is that parents are required to have students from age five to seventeen attend school (2000). It's a pro because children need education to advance in society, even if it is basic reading comprehension and math. The con to requirement of attendance in today’s society is many school systems lack the adequate material to teach students, therefore, most of the teachers' efforts well fall short because of time and the restriction to the curriculum.

Comparative funding of Charter and Public Schools[edit | edit source]

Public schools are funded by the government, while charter schools are funded through sponsors and grants. According to the National Center for Education Statistic and the Common Core of Data that collects public and secondary education expenditures and revenues data, approximately $487.6 billion dollars was collected in revenues in 2005 fiscal year. The expenditures totaled $424.6 billion also in 2005 . Seventy percent of the funding was spent on instructions and instructional-related activities, while only eighteen percent was spent on the operation of the schools. The public schools system received about $8,000 per pupil for both secondary and elementary education. On top of the $8,000 for each pupil, the schools received an additional $5,000 for education and educational-related activities. The dollar amount for each pupil varies from state to state. For example the expenditures in New York schools may receive about $9,000, while schools in Utah may be given $3,000 per pupil.

Federal support for charter schools began in 1995 with the authorization of the Public Charter Schools Program (PCSP), administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Charter schools are mainly funded by grants/sub-grants and sponsors; however, in 1965 there was a federal act called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that obligates charter schools to meet accountability requirements to obtain financial assistance. Unlike public education, charter schools are awarded grants on a three-year cycle instead of year to year like public schools. The grant amount was given out in 1995 was $6 million which then increased to $218.7 million in 2004 because of the growth of charter schools. Just like the public school systems, charter schools use a majority of their funds on instructional materials.

No Child Left Behind[edit | edit source]

Charter schools are subject to the No Child Left Behind act (NCLB) act because they are funded under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Title 1 and considered public schools. NCLB’s main objective is to have students “proficient” in the basics. The charter school law requires accountability; thus schools have to produce an adequate yearly progress report (AYP) similar to the public school. Therefore, charter schools must make satisfactory improvement each year toward the goals of NCLB. Charters have to keep in contact with the State Education Agency (SEA) to make sure they are meeting AYP standards to determine if individual schools are in need of improvement. This comes as an advantage to parents who want to switch their children to schools that are meeting the State Education Agency and the Local Education Agency (LEA) satisfactory progression.
The same goes with public schools that fall under Title 1. There are certain guidelines to follow that may hinder a system or boost morale. The biggest competition that comes from NCLB is the fact that charter schools are making the grade faster than public schools. There are some charter schools that don’t make AYP; therefore, just like public schools, they receive an in-need-of-improvement pass and parents are contacted to give them the choice of relocating their children to another school in their district for the following school year.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Public and charter schools are not much different. The biggest difference is the innovative style of education encouraged in charter schools. Each system has its downfalls, whether in students, location, teachers, or administrators. However, there is the common goal of educating children with the basics needed to survive in society. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is making it even more challenging for both systems to compete for student and parent attention in their districts. Financial assistance has aided charter schools to accomplish their goals of making a school system without many boundaries. Along with the cooperation of students, community, and the commitment from parents, many charter schools have been able to jump the hurdles of traditionalism. Today, school systems are having a harder time keeping students in school than keeping them out. I believe if students were given the opportunity to be part of the process of education and tell what they would like out of the educational board then students wouldn’t be reluctant to attend. The educational system has quite a way to go before it reaches a status where no one is truly left behind.

Questions[edit | edit source]

  1. Do charter schools have sports and extracurricular activities like other schools? Yes, some schools do offer alternative activities while others do not.
  2. What kind of educational background do teachers need at charter schools? Just like public schools, teachers have to be licensed in the state they are working in and other prerequisites depending on who the charter school is being sponsored by.
  3. Are special education classes offered in charter schools? Depending on the school because charter schools are partially funded by the state board of education it makes them responsible for giving services to special needs children. The problem with that is the school may not have a certified teacher to teach the student.
  4. Are standardize test scores higher in public schools or charter schools? Surprisingly they can fall short of public schools in certain states and districts. Read this article link from a newsletter for more information
  5. Are school uniforms required? Yes and no, like we have seen in some of the footage, some charter school students did have uniforms on. Many charter schools administrators’ believe it unifies the students, ushers a degree of honor and a good method of promoting the school’s image of focused education.

References[edit | edit source]

The American School/Public vs. Private Schools
Charter vs. Public Schools
Controversial Issues in America's Schools: Sex Education

  1. National Charter School Study Executive Summary 2013