Charter schools cannot be viewed as the ultimate solution to problems with the local schools. Now, before you think that this is just another charter-school bashing article, I want to say that I serve on the board of PATH Academy (a DeKalb charter school with a lottery and a separate governing board) and I send my daughter to a DeKalb theme school (a public school with a lottery yet without a separate governing board).
I think that the evidence is compelling that if a school choice program does not address transportation, then it is likely to provide greater benefits to those who already enjoy so many while practically excluding many people who may already be a step behind.
The lack of the above-mentioned items is why many of our schools are failing. The schools that are marked as “failing,” are, in many ways, indicators of where we as a society have failed our schools. We spend millions of public dollars on sports stadiums, economic tax breaks for corporations, and bloated bureaucratic nonsense.
For critics of charter schools to argue that charter schools aren’t “that great” or that they aren’t actually doing any better than the average of the state’s traditional schools is to miss a major factor when considering the performance of these schools. If the average school in the geographic area is performing below the state average, then if a charter school performs on average, it is still out-performing the traditional schools. This is a key component that critics are not including in their analysis of charter schools.
For many struggling districts, the choice isn’t between a college graduate who has an education degree and twenty years of experience and a Teach for America teacher who doesn’t have an educational background. The choice is between a substitute teacher or a TFA teacher.
My fear is that, many times, when a charter school arrives on the scene, some of the biggest advocates for public education throw all their energies into the charter school, depleting the community of some of the most involved parents and community members.