There is a new kind of school in America that is steadily increasing in number ever since its first establishment in 1992—charter schools. These schools are described as the ‘new and improved’ public schools that have curriculums especially designed to meet the needs of the students. For example, there are charter schools for students that are challenged in the academic and behavioral area or for students especially bent towards the arts (Rosenthal, 2006). Charter schools can implement such curriculums because they are essentially free from most of the bureaucracy that are limiting regular public schools from being as innovative.
In addition, for charter schools to stay operational, they are required to meet the academic standards set in their charter (“Charter schools FAQs,” n. d. ). It’s been 15 years since the establishment of the first charter school, yet, despite this and the obvious increase in number of such schools all over the states, its effectiveness is still an issue. People are still arguing if it is indeed better than regular public high schools.
In addition, the mixed results of studies made on charter schools do not help (Rosenthal, 2006).
Thus, most people are still divided, and will probably stay that way, since charter schools do have its advantages and disadvantages. This paper will list and briefly discuss some of the statements of the proponents and opponents of charter schools. The proponents of charter schools state that one, charter schools are generally small and thus this means that the students’ performances can be more monitored by their teacher. There are many studies that confirm that class size can affect the quality of academic performance of students.
Since the students are only few, the teachers can concentrate and help them even more in areas they have difficulties in. Second, charter schools may provide the competition and challenge that might propel public schools to improve their performance (“Charter schools, 2007”). For example, a public elementary school in Michigan started decreasing its class size and offering subjects that parents had suggested earlier after a charter school in the same area started getting a number of its students.
Also, a public school in Connecticut started contacting students’ parents and asking for feedbacks and suggestions on the improvement of the school (Coeyman, 2003). Third, since charter schools are not restricted by too many laws, the teachers can be more flexible in their curriculum and teaching styles and strategies. These teachers have more freedom to apply techniques that would produce better learning in students. On the other hand, the opponents of charter schools state that first, the state does not have enough finances to constantly monitor all charter schools and their performance.
After all, there are still charter schools that are handled by people who do not know what they are doing. Some also perform rather poorly, whether in its financial obligations or on students’ performances. Second, the time and efforts of a student may be wasted if a charter school is suddenly closed down. Charter schools are not fully financed by the government, and thus, if it manages its finances poorly, the school may stop. In addition, it could also close down if it breaks its charter. Lastly, the teachers in such schools are most probably fresh graduates.
Thus, with the combination of the flexibility that marks charter schools, students might end up as guinea pigs wherein teachers experiment on teaching styles or strategies that may or may not work (Carnoy, Jacobsen, & Rothstein, 2005). In conclusion, I would like to add my personal view on the issue. I would have to say that charter schools are slowly influencing the education of the Americans for the good. Although it is true that while there are charter schools that have been performing dismally, it should not be denied that there are also charter schools that have been performing better than some regular public schools.
Also, the implication behind the decision of parents enrolling their children in charter schools should not be ignored. There must be something lacking in the regular public school systems, thus causing parents to look for better schools. Either way, probably with a little polishing on charter school laws, they could be of help in the improvement of the educational performance of students in general. Not only are such schools trying to perform well, but with them, the regular public schools are also challenged to step up and improve.