By Kate Mabus '19
When asked about charter schools at my interview to become a member of Government Club, I was very confident in my belief, as are many other Americans, that they were the magic solution to our education crisis. The benefits seemed clear: charter schools create a healthy competition with public schools that ultimately benefits the entire school system. That is the theory. However, in practice, the problems of charter schools offset many of the benefits.
Charter schools are publicly funded independent schools. The idea of an independent school being publicly funded leaves enough room for abuse. The flaws really boil down to an excess of private control and lack of government oversight. Charter schools can be established by virtually anyone: organizations, parents, or anyone with enough high school education to write a proposal. They receive money from the government for every student in attendance, are run by a private school management company, and are overseen, not by the government, but by private organizations.
Here are the problems this type of setup causes:
There is no law stopping an organization that oversees a charter school from being owned by the exact same people who founded it. It’s pretty elementary that those who are founding charter schools should not oversee them. The serious problems with independent oversight can be seen in the fact that nationwide nearly 15% of charter schools have either closed or nearly closed due to mismanagement of funds. Government, ie. taxpayer, money is essentially being fed, through an individual's school, overseen by their own organization, into their own management company, and their own pockets. It really takes “schools are a business” to a new level.
The basic idea behind charter schools is that any American is able to receive the same independent, competitive education at a publicly funded school as someone going to NCS or STA. This can still be done, however, the way it is being done in practice needs serious reform.