Charter and Magnet Schools

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Charter Schools, Magnet Schools and Community Schools
Advantages and Disadvantages

Education systems have evolved greatly since the days of the one room school house. There are nearly 46 million students enrolled in public schools, all with different talents, interests and needs. (Source: National Center for Educational Statistics). Today, students and their families are given more choices than ever to pursue academic excellence in facilities that best suit them as individuals. This paper will describe three different school systems and a few advantages and disadvantages of each. Charter Schools

Charter schools began emerging in the early 1990’s. (Source: The Center for Educational Reform. 2007). These alternative public schools were created by teachers, community organizations and parents out of frustration for their neighborhood schools’ practices and bureaucracy. Those that were discouraged by low test scores, large class sizes and lack of influence over curriculum content envisioned a more autonomous, cutting edge environment. The intent was to offer an environment that would challenge conventional public school practices by specializing in certain areas of education, such as the arts, music, science or technology, in smaller, more individualized settings. Since charter schools are indeed public schools, they receive tax dollars, although private funding must be obtained as well. These self-directed and self-governing schools must adhere to basic fundamental curriculum requirements set by the state; however they are free from the many rules and regulations that apply to public schools. This freedom allows teachers an opportunity to design their own programs, creating the best learning environment for their students. Parents also have more of a say in how their children are being educated. Charter schools operate under the general guidelines that they will be accountable to uphold academic excellence. If they cannot meet the expectations set in place by the governing bodies, their funding will cease and the school will close. •The single best advantage of the charter school system is that parents and students have a vast array of educational options available to them. With a variety of specializations, students can choose the schools that best fit their interests as well as their learning styles. And to ensure that there is a place for many different types of students, there is even charter schools specifically designed for high-risk as well as gifted children.

Proponents of charter schools agree that being independent of public bureaucracy allows them to provide curriculum in innovative, ground-breaking ways. Teachers and administrators are allowed the freedom to experiment with their programs in ways that heavy regulation tends to restrict in public school settings.

Due to the high expectations and accountability to stakeholders, charter schools must perform at high levels to ensure their sites remain open. The advantage of this is twofold; students within these environments receive a high quality education, as evidence by studies showing charter school students performing at a slightly higher proficiency rate in math and reading, compared to their nearest public schools. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics). And due to the competition that these results provide, neighboring schools are forced to improve their academic performance in order to attract and maintain student enrollment levels and keep state and federal funding. Though, some critics would disagree, stating that since the curriculum in charter schools can be vastly different to their neighboring public schools, it’s difficult to compare results.

A disadvantage to the charter school system is that relies on outside funding. There is always an underlying fear that if the school falls short of its lofty goals or outside funding is withdrawn, that the school will close, leaving students and their families with...
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