What am I Wondering? # 4
Question: Do charter schools have a positive effect on the public school system by providing effective examples of innovation and competition?
Answer: Charter schools operate on the belief that “they provide choice to parents, offer competition as a way of increasing educational standards overall, and can be seen as models of innovation which may inspire other public schools” (Browning 16). However, only a few charter schools are successful examples of innovation or competition, and cannot justify the entire charter school system. Though some individual charter schools have been successful, charter schools as a system have negative effects on both students and their families who invest a significant amount of time and effort into the schools. Charter schools impact public schools negatively because they do not actually provide innovation, but rather take funding away from public schools.
Body paragraph: Charter school legislation was first passed as another reform effort for public schools based on the “belief in the power of a local control—the idea that those closest to the locus of educational activity (i.e., parents, teachers, building administrators) are in the best position to make critical decisions about teaching and learning” (McGree 2). Rather than excluding parents and teachers from regulations of schools, charter schools seek to rely solely on the parents and teachers for operating and regulating the school. Public schools are essentially governed by their state’s department of education, which consists of people who may or may not have any personal involvement with education. Charter schools are autonomous from such regulations and answer to no department of education. Berger and Cookson, however, cite “consistent research that school performance is only marginally related to its form of governance. That is, school effectiveness is associated with the leadership qualities of principals, the creativity of the teachers, and the academic climate of the schools” (98). This research removes credibility from the claim of proponents to provide a better educational system based on who is in charge. Effectiveness is not based on the method of operation by the school as a whole, but by the methods used by each individual.