Charters Schools: Starting a Downward Trend
Watching the charter school movement in the U.S. has certainly been both intriguing and discouraging.
I don't think anyone could have been against charters as they were originated - one or two classrooms in an existing school that were little hotbeds of innovation. Successes would be sent out to other classrooms and schools and failures duly noted with lessons learned.
But that is not how it has played out. What is the honest truth about charter schools looks like this:
- Most of them perform about the same as any given public school, meaning, no better/no worse.
- The top ones perform very well especially with at-risk kids. However, some of that performance comes at a cost. One issue is schools like KIPP are very segregated and use strict discipline (to the point where kids walk in a line from class to class with no talking...ever). Another issue with high-performing charter schools is the issue of transportation. Some are able - at a very high cost - to provide transportation but those that don't then find their population skewed to those who can get transportation to the school. I recall from my visit to Preuss High in San Diego - a top charter school in the country - that they were open to students across San Diego and the costs of transport were becoming a problem.
- The terrible charters tend to be the ones who close up shop in the middle of the night, leaving parents and districts scrambling. There continues to be a charter school scandal over money nearly Seattle Schools Community Forum: Charters Schools: Starting a Downward Trend: