Sunday, February 21, 2016

Keep the choice for public charters

Not everyone likes Charter Schools.  Not every one should, they’re not perfect but the reality of the charter school is that they are 100% public schools.  A charter school may have a slightly different focus to their educational programs but most, and I emphasize the most, are just like your local elementary school or your local high school, having the same oversight and same requirements that every other school has in the state.

So the question of why some don’t like charter schools becomes more of a question of why they don’t like certain public schools.  The answer is actually very simple.  Charter schools usually excel at educating their students.  It is true that charter schools are schools of choice, meaning that parents have to make a choice to attend a charter school where as the local school is mandated to accept those within its boundaries making some believe that the charter system is picking and choosing its students, leaving the left over’s for the local schools to deal with.

When parents have a choice they are more in tune with that choice and are therefore more involved with the education of their children.  The issue is with choice and the few selfish politicians who want to legislate those choices away, forcing everyone to attend the local schools only, without any regard for the quality of education within that local school.

Let me be open and honest, I am a teacher and have been for some time.  My wife and I have sent our children to the local schools and to charter schools; I’ve worked for both and currently work for a charter school.  I teach special education and I can tell you first hand that we do not, I repeat, do not pick and choose our student’s, nor can any charter school.  They must accept those who enroll and who are accepted though the enrollment process.

The charter only allows the school to educate along pre-determined and agreed to mandates.  Charters may design a curriculum around the arts or math and science, very much like Magnet Schools operate, except the managing authority is not the local school district.

The current feud between local public schools and public charter schools is mostly about the money.  Public Charter schools are currently allowed in 46 states with California being the leader in the number of open and running schools with a combined enrollment of over 471,000 students or approximately 6-8% of the total students enrolled in k-12 schools.

With the ADA (Average Daily Attendance, the funding source for all schools in California) being about $9,300 per student, per year, the amount of money in question is staggering and the real reason for the legislation is completely understandable.  We’re talking about 4 billion dollars.  Four billion dollars that used to be under the control of the local school districts, no wonder they want to sponsor legislation to get it back.  

Not all public charter schools are equal and not all local schools are bad.  The reality of the situation is a bit more complicated than simple black and white statements but more often than not the public charter has a better track record than the local school.  The reason is the choice the parents make to educate their children, a choice anyone could make but only 8% of the population decides to make.  It’s only 8% and the local schools are clamoring and complaining that the public charters are hurting their schools.

The public charter has just as many individual issues as the local schools, the difference is we care more, we use uniforms and we have a program that we follow that mandates how we teach, what we teach and then we follow though with what we teach and make sure the students have actually learned what they were supposed to have learned.

I know what you’re thinking…don’t all schools teach like that?  There supposed too but very few actually do, that’s why the public charter does so well and why the proposed and ongoing effort to stop the public charter school movement should be defeated. 

There are representatives gathering signatures, they need over 300,000, we should let them know up front that we want our public charters to stay and to let the local schools know that if they want those students back, start teaching, start caring and stop complaining. 

Last thing, it’s not the teachers in the local schools that are at fault, it’s the top heavy and burdensome administration that stifles the creativity and abilities of the teachers, let them teach and I dare say the students and parents of those students would be back.