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Monday, October 08, 2012
Published September 8, 2011-Updated October 18,
“The Latent Concern:
Charter Schools Will Become the Norm”
The latent concern opponents of charter schools are
having is that charter schools will become the norm and public education will
cease to exist. Public education has a
negative connotation as being inferior to its counter part, private schools.
The general belief is that public school students lack the basic
foundations of reading, writing, and math and will therefore not be able to
compete academically or economically with private school students.
However, the public school students’ competition extends beyond private
schools and the American walls to the global community.
The government is linking its education with its economic situation and
viewing the statement, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” as
true to why they are not competing on a global stage.
Due to the advancing workforce, there has been a greater push to ensure
American students have the basic academic foundation to build upon so they may
compete on the global stage. In
order to close the achievement gap, governing officials are looking at other
options to ensure public education students have the basic academic foundation
that will enable them to also compete with their global counterparts in the job
market. As it stands, charter
schools are becoming the solution to under performing schools.
Major cities like New York and Detroit are
replacing under performing public schools with charter schools. In New York, New York’s Department of Education closed 22
of the city’s failing public schools and replaced them with charter schools.
According to the Daily Beast’s writer John Avlon, 7000 students
were accepted for the Fall 2011 year with 50,000 students on the waiting list.
In regards to the waiting list, a solution that is being used is to
co-locate the charter schools. Basically,
charter schools will share a building with other charter schools and public
schools. By having the charter and
public schools in the same location, officials are hoping that this will speed
up the process of moving the students from under performing schools to the charter schools.
Organizations like the NAACP and United Teachers Federation Union,
however, view the idea as counterproductive.
NAACP and United Teachers Federation Union appealed to the New York State Supreme
Court in order to prevent the co-location of the charter schools.
According to the New York Times’ writer Fernanda Santos’
article, “NAACP on Defensive as Suit on Charter Schools Splits Group’s
Supporters,” the NAACP and United Teachers Federation Union believes a
separate but unequal environment has been created.
Some of the concerns cited are the public school students eating lunch at
an earlier time, not having access to class materials, and having to learn in a
basement that is substituting as a classroom.
However, these concerns fell on deaf ears.
Some have argued that several of the public elementary and middle schools
are half full. Therefore, the
state is spending more money to maintain and keep open these schools that
aren’t showing any positive results. One
parent went as far as to imply that the NAACP was acting more like a roadblock
than a pathfinder. Avalon quoted
Kathleen Ker Nivan as saying, “Well,
the problem is that this group of people that mommy told you about during Black
History month, that did all those great things a long time ago-they want to stop
you from doing great things.” Hence,
the NAACP is viewed in the same light as the oppressors they fought against
during Jim Crow. The good news for
the parents and students is that the NAACP and the United Teachers Federation
Union’s appeal was not successful and progress, as the parents and students
see it, can move forward.
Rick Snyder of Michigan took it further than New York and decided that
Detroit’s public schools were in such dire need of help that they needed an
Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) to have complete control over the decisions
made in the Detroit Public School System (DPS).
Governor Snyder appointed Robert Bobb to the position and then replaced
him with Rob Roberts. The
governor’s decision to appoint an EFM was understandable considering the fact
that DPS was plagued by allegations of officials misusing funds, as well as not
having the financial resources to hire qualified administrators, faculty, and
staff to increase the quality of education.
According to the Detroit News’ writer Robert Snell’s article,
“Gallery Owner Guilty in Detroit Public Schools Corruption Case:
She Faces up to 20 years for District Contract Deal,” Sherry Washington
was an allege corrupt official who misused the DPS’ funds.
Sherry Washington owned an art gallery and was a prominent individual
within the community. She was
accused of taking more than $3 million dollars from DPS.
Her allege accomplice, Stephen Hill, was a former school executive who
allegedly received approximately $150,000 from Sherry Washington.
It was alleged that Hill used the money in order to buy cars and to have
a retirement party. Basically, Mr.
Hill and Mrs. Washington decided that the money would be better spent on
themselves than the students at the Detroit Public Schools. Unfortunately, their actions, along with others, have
contributed to the poor education the DPS’ students are receiving.
State of Michigan Education site stated that DPS’ students have an ACT average
of 15 compared to Michigan’s ACT average of 19.3 and the National average of
20. Also, the DPS’ students
scored below average on all five subject areas (reading, writing, math, science,
and social studies) on Michigan’s merit exam.
The scores suggest that these students will be left out of the advancing
job market because they do not have the basic academic foundation.
And without the basic academic foundation to build upon, performing simple task
can be quite difficult. However, not everyone believes charter schools are the
solution to the ailing public school system.
A common objection is that charter schools are privatized companies whose
interest is the bottom line, money, and will not be able to achieve the
to the NPR article “What Happens When Charter Schools Fail?,” the CEO
of the Philadelphia Academy Charter School was charged with stealing $1 million
dollars. There are also accusations
that the CEO allegedly charged the school rent and placed the money he received
from the rent within his allege $1 million dollar stash. The money the CEO allegedly stole could have gone towards
programs targeted to special education students, the purchase of updated books,
or to upgrade the computers. Instead,
the school administrators were forced to acknowledge that the money for the
students was not there. But as the
allegations against the prominent art gallery owner associated with the Detroit
Public School System has shown, allege misuse of funds is not limited to Charter
the Atlanta Public School System (APS) was hit with allegations of educators
receiving higher pay based on their inflation of the students’ test scores.
The cheating scandal has resulted in parents questioning just how much
they can trust the educators to teach their children the basics of education
when the educators apparently had to inflate grades in order to cover up their
inability to teach. The findings
have resulted in teachers resigning, request for the return of funds, and a
federal investigation. It brings up
the question of just how qualified are the educators who are educating the
students. And it is cases like
those associated with the APS and DPS that tend to get more attention than the
one associated with the Philadelphia Charter Schools because the APS and DPS
situation reinforces the feeling that it is time to try something different,
even if it isn’t perfect.
bright spot for charter schools is that the public has been loosing faith in the
public education system. Although
it is true that cases such as those that occurred in Philadelphia concerning the
misappropriation of funds at charter schools do occur, they are brushed aside
because of similar cases like the ones associated with the DPS and APS.
It is a situation in which a public school’s negative is magnified 21
times over compared to its counter part, charter schools.
There is the feeling that it is time to try something new because the old
method has not been working. And
with the advancing job market and growing global competition, “out with the
old and in with the new” may be the better way for the country to go with