Julie wrote the piece in June while in the last month of her pregnancy but she would have done it while Jack was being born if she had to.
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UPDATE: Read Gary Rubinstein: What they teach the new CMs about public vs. charter schools
CHARTER SCHOOLS are independent, tuition-free elementary or high schools that receive public money and private donations. They are not subject to some of the rules, regulations and statutes that apply to traditional public schools but are held accountable for delivering certain academic results.
Supporters say that charter schools offer a greater range of educational choices, more innovative programs and a higher quality of education than traditional public schools. Since charter schools are created by the communities in which they operate they can provide exactly what the community needs, supporters add.
Critics argue that charter schools do not necessarily produce better academic results and that public schools also have innovative programs. Charter schools consume critical tax dollars, they add, money that would be better spent in our traditional public school system.
What do you think?
from an expert in the field:
Mike Feinberg is co-founder of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), a charter school system (www.kipp.org).
THERE IS NO SUCH thing as a silver bullet for public education. Charter schools are merely one promising tool in our ever-expanding tool belt of approaches to K–12 educational reform. These autonomous public schools provide a testing ground for innovation, where ideas can be tried, refined and then shared with educators from across the public school system.
When we started KIPP, we weren't trying to solve all of America's education challenges; we simply wanted to set up our students for success in college and in life. Our plan? Hold classes from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, every other Saturday and three weeks in the summer; have teachers set high standards and be available via cellphone after hours; and focus on teaching both academics and character. Eighteen years later, with 109 charter schools in 20 states across the country, 84 percent of our eighth-graders go on to college.
Charter schools are based on a simple horse trade: Freed from the strictures of the traditional district system, public charter schools can use innovative new ways to engage and support students. If they don't meet goals outlined in their charter agreement with their sponsor, or authorizer, they can be closed. When done right, advancements don't stay within charter schools' walls; they spill out, sparking a vibrant dialogue among public educators. That way, the best school practices can reach many more students than charter schools would be able to serve on their own.
Cross-pollination between charter schools and traditional district schools is paying off. The Houston Independent School District's Apollo 20 program is implementing best practices from KIPP and YES Prep and other charter schools in struggling district schools, and the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston is partnering with KIPP to start new schools within schools modeled after our practices. This spring, officials from 18 urban school districts serving more than 3 million students entered the eight-month-long KIPP Leadership Design Fellowship, a federally funded program designed to share best practices and explore how to cultivate visionary leadership in public schools of all kinds.
High-performing charter schools over the past decade have shattered the myth that your ZIP code defines your destiny. To understand the true value of charters, it's important to look at not only the results, but how they are proving what is possible for public school students across the country.
from an expert in the field:
Julie Cavanagh is a teacher, member of the Grassroots Education Movement and co-producer/narrator of The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman (http://gemnyc.org).
CHARTER SCHOOLS, in theory, appeared to be a good idea. Unfortunately, the charter school landscape has evolved into a politically charged campaign that aims to impose the same business-minded approaches that took our country to the brink of economic disaster in recent years.
In the past, race, gender, financial and/or immigrant status, or whether one had a disability, were the determining factors in access to a quality public education. The promise of one common public education system was to make these factors moot, to eliminate the access gap and to provide educational opportunity for all.
We have fallen short of that promise. Charter schools, however, do not bring us closer. In fact, they threaten years of progress in educational policy that have brought us closer to the goal of a free, fair, high-quality, integrated public education system.
Charter schools are not public; they are education corporations, many run as chains, and some for profit. Charter schools admit children only by lottery and counsel out children who do not adhere to their rules or standards. Charter schools serve far fewer English-language learners, students with special needs and those who qualify for reduced-price and free lunch as compared with public schools. Public means there is public oversight; charter schools are their own independent boards of education, and are overseen by boards of appointed, not elected, members with no or minimal parental involvement and empowerment.
Charter schools are not more successful or innovative than public schools. They have significantly higher staff and student attrition rates, which contradicts claims of high student achievement. Test scores increase as charter schools counsel out the neediest students. Yet, a study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University of 2,403 charter schools across the country showed that 80 percent of charter school students performed the same as or worse than students in public schools.
Access to a high-quality public education is a basic human and civil right; it is not something that should be won in a lottery. Instead of creating winners and losers, as the business model of competition and choice ultimately does, we should focus on the real reforms that will finally achieve the promise of one free, fair, high-quality and integrated public education system.
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