A quote from the Tampa Bay Times article on the movement toward charters: “You don’t want to be the mom who made the wrong decision”. What is behind this concern:
- Children are leaving Lutz elementary, a well thought of district school, because they want to be first in line for a charter middle school.
Why a charter middle school? Middle schools draw from a larger areas and parents are concerned that discipline problems increase during those years. The big take away is that some parents worry that district schools are less ‘safe’. Charters can dismiss students which parents can use as a warning to their own children.
Other parents and educators see the impact of choice on their communities. As one parent said, “I know we are not going to be a great city without great public schools.”
The choice system extends divides by class, race, opportunity and ideology. The public district choice options are to offer magnet programs and magnet schools. The advantage is that there is district planning and oversight which reduces fraud, abuse, and other mismanagement problems. It makes district planning more cost effective. It does not, in its current form, solve the equity problems for less affluent families. It’s only a step in the direction of equal access to high quality education.
I just read a column in the New York Times where David Leonhardt came down on the side of charter schools based in part on his reading about the positive impact in Florida for students who graduate from charter schools. I posted three summaries of studies re Florida charters:
- Charter High School Long Term Effects. Interesting that in Florida, the data from the study were from charter students entering high school back in 2002. Those charter school 8th graders who went on to a charter high school were more affluent, less likely to be black, more likely to be Hispanic and not have an ESE designation (p.16). Soooo, the conclusion is that charter school students who graduate from a charter high school do better on most out come measures e.g. college attendance, income etc. than 8th graders from charters who did not graduate from a charter high school. To put it another way, in South Florida which has a high proportion of Hispanic students in charter schools, these students do better in the long run than lower income black students who return to district high schools. Should this surprise anyone?
I also posted these additional studies:
- CREDO Urban Study shows in 5/7 Florida cities, charters did less well than comparable public district schools. Charters performed better in only one city.
National Alliance of Public Charter Schools reports that, “despite consistent growth by charter schools in Florida, the schools have lagged on quality, diversity and innovation.” 2016.
Academic achievement aside, many decisions are about feelings. What do we do about the uncertainties we all face? I remember the famous saying from President Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. At the time, there were riots, food lines, and the looming prospect of war. Plenty to worry about. We made it then; we will make it through this time.