Charter schools have been in the news a lot lately due to a lawsuit filed by the United Federation of Teacher’s Union and the NAACP against the New York City Department of Education. The lawsuit was filed to help prevent the city from closing public schools and replacing them with charter schools.
While these charter schools have great potential, they can also be harmful. Most charter schools use a lottery system; so thinking that charter schools can stop the education crisis is like solving the economic crisis with scratch tickets. While a few lucky students may benefit from the lottery system, most children will not benefit at all.
One of the reasons the right wing is so supportive of charter schools is that they do not require teachers to be in their powerful union. The UFT is a big supporter of the Democratic party and opposes Republicans who are always trying to cut education budgets, especially in urban areas.
While the UFT may have issues, as seen in the movie, “Waiting For Superman,” the union is necessary for teachers so they are not mistreated, fired unjustly or discriminated against. In charter schools, many teachers are underpaid and overworked which results in a very high turnover rate.
While the media highlights some of the successful charter schools such as Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone, they do not highlight the many that fail. Many charter schools have inadequate facilities for sports, art and music, and many teachers are not certified or qualified to teach the subjects that they teach.
One of the reasons some charter schools are successful is because the parents. If parents are willing to find alternative schools and enroll in lotteries, they are more likely to be involved in their children’s lives as well as their schools.
Charter schools are part of the answer. Schools can use some of the successful methods from charter schools. But saying charter schools are the answer to fix education is like saying giving jobs to 1,000 people in Hawaii will solve national unemployment.