Letter to the School Board, Essay Example
The focus of this report is to inform the local school board on the proposed establishment of a charter school within the school district. A charter school serves as an attractive option for students to give their children another method in educating their children. Within this report it will inform the readers on the changes in school education, the disadvantages that children face in schools today, and the importance of another method in reaching children in order for them to excel even after they graduate. Charter schools are publicly funded schools that serve a small population that can focus on certain curriculum developed to teach to different types of personalities and learning attitudes. Charter schools are the fastest growing schools within the world and they have a successful output that proceeds their reputation.
Education is the foundation of the economic growth within the United States if not the world. When teachers fosters the development of students, students learn and do better in the classroom. The school serves as the incubator in which they cook up enriching lessons and instill ideas and creativity into students’ minds. Students graduate ready to take on the world with the new knowledge gained. While this is the ideal behind school, not all schools foster this same formula. Some schools are not equipped with the right tools in order to properly teach all types of students. No one student is alike, and it is up to the instructor to relate to the students on their level in order for the instructor to properly teach to them. In some public schools this may seem like a difficult task as classrooms are overcrowded, and the teacher isn’t able to give adequate attention to every student. The ideal of charter schools are that try to fix this and a lot more problems that plaque public schools. Charter schools serves as a secondary option that has smaller classrooms, better one-on-one attention, and teachers that are fully educated to teach to all types of students learning abilities. This report is dedicated to proposing the establishment of a charter school within the school district to give parents another option to educating their children.
The purpose of this proposal is to create an alternative option from the traditional public schools operated by the local school districts and set out to improve education within the classrooms by establishing charter school within the school district. Charter schools are tuition free option that are free from government sanctions and district rules as long as they meet requirements and obligation that meet to measure the performances of the students. Public schools have long been the traditional education setting for students within the United States. Although the option of private schooling exists, most students cannot afford the yearly tuition that most private schools charge. The public education systems has services hundreds of millions of students since its inception hundreds of years ago. However times have changed, once ranked number one for high school graduation rate after World War II, it has dropped dramatically to number 22 out of 27 industrialized nations. In the 21st century the statistics don’t lie and students are struggling within the public education system. Students are following behind in major subjects that set them up for their futures. Students are graduating at lower numbers without the necessary skills needed to get into secondary education or work at even low wage jobs. According to NAEP two out of three eighth graders cannot read proficiently and will most likely not be able to catch up once they graduate from high school. The same students score below in math, cannot write proficiently, and are not proficient in civics. (NEAP, 2011) In 2012 alone over a million students dropped out school recorded on an annual basis. The numbers are even higher with African American and Hispanic students that dropout rate border to over 40 percent compared to the national average at 27 percent. In the core school subjects of American students ranked 25th, 17th, and 14th out of 27 in math, science, and reading respectively. (OECD, 2012) According to statistics the average eight grader is two years behind in math and other subjects compared to their peers in other countries. In the same sense those that go on to enroll in secondary education the United States is behind in 13 countries that have completed college coursework, and less than half finish college.
Public School System and Job Market
Within the 21st century the job market is flooded with high school and college graduates competing for jobs, however, the average job requires at least college coursework. Over 40 percent of dropouts are jobless and the average dropout aged 25 is more than three times college graduates. According to Alliance for Excellent Education, nearly two-thirds of college professors feel that what is taught in high school is not preparing the students for college. Employers are also finding it difficult to higher American workers because they lack the adequate skills that the job may require and over 75 percent report that employees with four year college degrees lack the back knowledge and applied skills also. This number will only increase as the years go on and the percent of jobs needing secondary degrees will increase at an average of 22 million employees needing college degrees. The numbers don’t lie and high school graduates are expected to earn almost $600,000 less than any other country with just 5 percent of a typical college graduate, and those with a college degree make up to 40 percent higher than high school graduates. This is just not a factor of public school education but a factor of also the suffering economy that affects the job market of high school graduates that are finding difficult to work full time, and live with their parents. If schools would work to close the achievement gap between white students and minorities the annual GDP would increase by over $500 billion dollars, because each annual dropouts cost the government over $150 billion dollars in lost income, compared to the $8 billion in possible savings and revenue if just a fraction of dropouts stayed in school and attended college.
Public School System and the Nation
Public education also affects areas of crime and national security. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics nearly 65 percent of U.S convicts are high school dropouts that lack education and is a strong predictor of criminal activity. (Bureau of Justice Statistic, 2003) High school dropouts are nearly 20 times more likely to commit crimes that land them in prison or jail compared to college graduates. If schools were to increase graduation rates it would prevent over 3000 murders and over 150,000 aggravated assaults each year. The United States only spends $10,000 per student, but over $30,000 on prison inmates. The Alliance of Excellent Education predicts that if just 5 percent of male students graduated from high school that the United States would save annually at almost $5 billion in crime-related costs. (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2006) Even in terms of the national security, high school graduates are finding it hard to join the military because they lack the adequate education. Those that do qualify initially score too low on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery in order to be recruited. Even in the other departments of the United States military that recruit servicemen in areas of Life Science and Aerospace are finding it difficult to find qualified workers. This poses a major problem as the current workforce is reaching the age of retirement.
According to the Gallup Poll many Americans feel that is unlikely that this young generation won’t have a better life than their parents. The social mobility in America is becoming a thing of the past due to almost two-thirds of students being born to low-income parents, and remain in the low income bracket due to inadequate resources and education. According to Pew Reports only 4 percent of Americans that are raised in the low income brackets of the economic ladder will rise to the top of ladder as adults. Compared to other industrialized nations, public schools are used as a lever for social mobility for children of diverse backgrounds to find success within the United States. Although these may seem like damning statistics and information there is still hope for the education system as more school districts are establishing another alternative to the education.
The concept of charter schools were developed by the American Federation of Teachers in New York City in the late 80s and early 90s. Originally it was designed to be a teacher run school that would help students that struggled within the traditional public school system that would operate outside of the big city school board and the administrative bureaucracy. They were seen as alternatives to the large cities high schools and experiments for teachers and community activists. Charters begin to grow beginning with Minnesota and spread to other states that passed laws to promote the establishment of charters that built a parallel education system outside the reach of the teacher unions and the government that serve to accept all students. The movement behind Charter schools has dramatically increased and rightfully so as it has transformed from the community based and local effort designed to more formative approach to reach out to students for a smaller, parallel, privatized school setting in a nationally funded system supported by investors, investors, and educational management companies. They have turned into a highly sought and selective school that is evident in special documentaries like “Waiting for Superman” and other films.
Charter schools come in all shapes and sizes and range in qualities and curriculum specialties. Charter schools can be found in over 40 states and the number is increasing to over 4,000 that serve over one million students. They have gained presidential support since their inception with money funded from President Bill Clinton, President Bush, and support from President Obama that believes that charter schools are the answer for education reform encouraging states to lift their limits on the growth of charter schools within the district. Charter schools are not selective with their enrollment and do not discriminate against any student. They accept every student and provide the same curriculum core as public schools. They are publicly funded by run like a private schools as they provide a different approach with a personalized individual attention given to each student in order for them to reach their full potential. When a charter school does have a waiting lists a lottery can be performed on students getting into charter schools. In some charter schools they can carry policies of strict attendance, random drug testing, and behavior policies. In each charter school the goal is to create a smaller population setting that allows for teachers and educators to work one-on-one with students that might have learning difficulties or those with disabilities. Charter schools help with not only learning development but also physical, emotionally, and in some schools spiritual development. Charter schools can set up classrooms that separate boys and girls in order to cut down on distractions and encourage participation.
Charter schools offer more advance and honor classes and when students reach high school have the opportunity to participate in Dual Enrollment classes with local colleges in order to prepare them for secondary education. Curriculum can follow public school systems but also offers other options such as Dance, Ballet, and a mixture of performing art classes, and other sports alternatives in the same semester. These classes allow for students to explore new subjects and gain knowledge that is usually given in college courses. In some charter schools they also provide a schedule that prepares students for a college setting that includes half days, leaving during the day but returning for classes later, taking more than required, and strict scheduling with classes that range from 50 to 90 minute classrooms. In most classes there can be multi-grade approach and longer school days to adequately enrich all students better. Students have ability to express themselves as in most charter schools do not have to be bound by a specific dress code and can ask the school for help even in areas where students may shy away from administration.
Charter schools can be created by anyone, attended by anyone, and teacher choose to be there by choice. However, Charter schools are held accountable for test results and student performances that must produce satisfactory results. Charter schools have governance over their budget, staffing, organization, curriculum, school calendar, and much more. More parents are choosing charter schools because they want an option from the challenges that public schools have presented including an increase in class sizes, increase in bullying, and an increase in students testing below average. This number is increasing in schools that cater to a more affluent minority population. Over 60 percent of parents feel that charter schools are a better alternative than public schools in terms of individual attention, discipline, academic standards, and parent involvement. Teachers also feel that charters schools are a better alterative as they feel empowered and fulfilled professionally.
There are several challenges and oppositions that threaten the growth of charter schools. Many feel that charter schools do not do any differently than public schools. Those that oppose express that charter schools are not adequately regulated. A report from the American Federation of Teachers believe that authorizers of charter schools failed to hold the teachers and administrators accountable in low performing schools. The administrators that act on charter schools often don’t have the minimal required training. Charter schools can also be vulnerable to mismanagement and financial problems as they don’t receive the proper funding that a public school receives. The average student in a charter school is $1800 per student compared to public schooling receiving around $3000 per student, even though charter schools caters to more disadvantage students. Other opposition shows that in some charter schools they can be more racially segregated than public schools. (Civil Rights Project, 2010) Even though charter schools refute such as they feel a high concentration of minorities choose charter schools because they believe they are poorly served at traditional public schools. “Skeptics worry that charters unfairly divert resources and policy attention from regular public schools.” (EdWeek, 2011) However, charter schools may actually improve the school systems creating competition and alternative choices.
The research conducted on which type of school performs better is generally mixed as some studies conducted in states feel that they perform significantly lower and have less-consistent gains on standardized tests. (Horn and Miron, 2000) A Stanford report found that 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than there public school counterparts, with 17 percent of charter schools performing better, and 46 percent saw no significant difference. (Wolf and Browne, 2009) The academic success of students within charter schools are significantly affected by state policies in the school district. States that implement caps on charter schools have found to show they perform significantly lower on those with no caps. Those with charter appeals that were initially denied show a small increase in student performances. Report also found positive results from charter schools that found that students that came from low income background had a positive and larger impact than similar students in traditional public schools. Students that were learning English (ESL) also were shown to have better gains in charter schools, and special education students had similar founding with their peers in public schools. Over time studies have shown that students perform better in charter schools. Students may suffer decline in their first year, but as they continue they show a significant reversal in positive achievement gains. (Wolfe and Browne, 2009) Achievement results varied by states but students in charter schools performed significantly higher in areas such as writing, reading, and math than those in traditional public schools in most states. “If the charter school movement is to flourish, a deliberate and sustained effort to increase the proportion of high quality schools is essential.” (Wolfe and Browne, 2009)
In conclusion, traditional public schools are struggling and in need of an educational reform in order to reach students that are significantly disadvantage. Research and statistics have shown that students in public school system struggle in areas that are essential in getting jobs out of high schools, the military, and moving on to secondary education. Those that dropout of high school due to the inadequacies in the public school system do a damage on the economy, the national security, and crime. Charter schools provide another if not a better alternative for teachers, students, and parents to reach students that are typically left out due to overcrowding and lack of resources.
Those with diverse backgrounds succeed in charter schools and students also benefit from smaller classrooms, more one-on-one attention, better parent involvement, more academic options, and more skills for when they graduate. There are many that oppose charter schools that include school boards, teacher unions, and some school districts that feel they are taking away resources from public schools, not adequately managed, trained, or finance that harms students more than helps. Opposition ranges from segregated classrooms to school performances. However, critics for charter schools can refute the claims as most charter schools cater to various backgrounds including lower to high income, and minority students that believe they don’t receive enough attention at traditional public schools. Research and studies have been conducted to prove that students do perform better over time in charter schools especially in subjects such as math, reading, and writing, compared to their peers in traditional public schools. Minorities, lower income students, and ESL students also perform significantly higher in charter schools also. The academic success is based solely on the state policies in the school environment that provide the rules, regulation, and secure financing for charter schools. Over charter schools are the best alternative and option for parents and students that creates an atmosphere that will ensure that students will be equipped and ready for the real world.
It is the recommendation of this report that the school board should consider and approve the establishment of a charter school in the school district based on providing options and a better alternative for students and parents to educate their children. Research has proven that based on the state that students in charters schools do perform better than those in traditional public schools. Charter schools create unity within the community in order to establish funding and input for bringing strength and safety to communities. With attention focused on having graduates that have the skills to compete in the job market and be success in college, charter schools are seen as the best option.
American Federation of Teachers. (2002) “Do Charter Schools Measure Up? The Charter School Experiment After 10 Years.” Retrieved from http://criticaltep.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/charterreport02.pdf
Center for Education Reform. (2008). “Annual Survey of America’s Charter Schools,” Retrieved from http://www.edreform.com/_upload/cer_charter_survey_2008.pdf
Center on Reinventing Public Education. (2011). “Inside Charter Schools: Unlocking Doors to Student Success,” Retrieved from http://www.crpe.org/cs/crpe/view/csr_pubs/381
“Charter Schools.” (2011). EdWeek. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/charter-schools/
“Charter Schools.” (n.d). American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/issues/schoolchoice/charters/
Miron, G. and Horn, J., (2000) “An Evaluation of the Michigan Charter School Initiative,” Retrieved from http://homepages.wmich.edu/~miron/publics/michigan/Executive_Summary.pdf
“Statistics.” (2013). The Broad Foundation. Retrieved from http://broadeducation.org/about/crisis_stats.html
The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, (2010), “Choice Without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards,” Retrieved from http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/choice-without-equity-2009-report
U.S. Department of Education, (2011).”Condition of Education 2011,” Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/media/coe-in-brief-final-33condition.pdf
Wolfe, Susan, Browne, Mira. (2009) “New Stanford Report Finds Serious Quality Challenge in National Charter School Sector.” Credo Stanford. Retrieved from http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/National_Release.pdf?1375638188139
Vanourek, G. (1997). “Charter Schools as Seen by Those Who Know Them Best: Students, Teachers, and Parents.” Washington, DC: Hudson Institution.
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