Charter schools serve as inspiration for colleges seeking more accountability, student-centered approaches and enhanced education delivery
Career College Central Magazine, Jan/Feb 2014
In the United States, there are many options for K-12 education: charter schools, private schools, magnet schools, vouchers, tuition tax credits, home schooling and simply moving your family to a new local public school district. Parents will drive the necessary change to ensure their children are prepared for the unlimited world ahead of them, and in response, public school education is evolving. The change is charter schools. As Career College Central takes a look at higher education in 2015 and beyond, I felt it was important to review the latest developments with charter schools since they are the ideal representation of schools acting to enhance accountability, student-centered approaches and education delivery – all while operating with a for-profit business model. This change is coming at a fantastic and inspirational time in our history. The traditional kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) system is today under attack for being expensive and poorly preparing our children for either college or a career. The United States traditional public education system has become overly focused on the element of accountability at the expense of progress, and our children are not prepared for the world outside of K-12.
Charter schools function on a for-profit mindset with an entrepreneurial approach. In many cases, charter schools operate on about two-thirds of the average funding for a child in a traditional public school.
We champion an accountability-only emphasis on setting targets, yet we do not commit to developing educational systems to ensure our children can meet these targets. The problem is we as a nation have been spending about 85 percent more on public education since 1970, according to Education Week’s cover story, “Charter Schools Grab Rural Toehold.” Common sense tells us the more we spend on public education the better the education should be, and therefore the more prepared our children should be for what comes next in their lives. But it depends who is telling the story. For the most part, school spending between rich and poor school districts across our nation has been balanced over the last 30 years. You can argue that it has not been equally, as the poorer school districts have seen per student spending rise faster than that of the richer school districts. Those poor school districts that have the greater need received the additional money. Yet, both poor and rich school districts have all ended near the same 85 percent increase in spending since 1970, according to the report in Education Week. Education is the greatest expenditure for most towns and clearly an area where cost efficiency is needed. It is no secret towns are struggling to fund the highly publicized antiquated education problem.
The average funding expenditure for traditional public school education in the United States is $12,608 per student as reported by the U.S. Department of Education. The average for charter schools per student is $8,256. To put this into some context, the New Hampshire Department of Education reports the average student funding expenditure is $13,459 as compared to the average. The cost per student at a New Hampshire charter school is $5,495. In many states, funding charter schools has become their cost-saving and educational-improvement strategy. Necessity brings about change, and leading the change are charter schools. The charter school story is fueled by everyday people taking an astonishing interest and driving positive and productive change in K-12 education. Education processes are always in some form of evolutionary change. Today, more than 2.3 million students attend about 6,000 charter schools in 42 states, including the District of Columbia. The waiting list is estimated at a million students, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a 13.4 percent increase from the preceding year according to Reichgott Junge’s research paper “Charter Schools Are Changing the Landscape. Education is an adaptive evolutionary process that waits for no one, and the charter school performance data is beginning to flow in. Los Angeles charter schools are outperforming charters in California and nationwide. Forty-eight percent of Los Angeles charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading and 44 percent outperformed traditional public schools in math, according to the Education Week report “Charter School Performance in Los Angeles.” In New York City charter schools, 86 percent of all students come from the lowest-income families, 95 percent are African-American or Latino, and 83 percent go to college. In 2012, 15-year-olds attending BASIS Tucson North, a charter school in Arizona, outperformed every country in the world. In the case of many charter schools, flexibility is the key to their success. A great example is the charter school law in New Mexico that allowed a school to design student growth and evaluation plans that helped teachers, students and parents visualize education progress in real time. I asked Kate Baker, Executive Director of the Network for Educational Opportunity (NEO), a New Hampshire K-12 education scholarship organization, if charter schools could have the same funding as traditional K-12 public schools, what would our community’s return on investment be? “I’m thinking about your ROI question from 50,000 feet. In the long run, I expect innovation in education, like at Polaris Charter School of Manchester, New Hampshire, where the curriculum is student-centered and they are utilizing technology and authentic supply and demand,” she said. “[There], parents and students are not trapped by their Zip code, and they have many education options. The average cost of a private elementary in New Hampshire is $6,500 per student, as compared to $13,459 for public school students in New Hampshire.”
Charter schools are designed from the ground up to be academically strong. Charter schools must be fiscally responsible or go out of business; there is no golden government parachute for charter schools. A charter school is a required and viable choice within the traditional public school system. Charter Schools offer parents a high-quality education alternative for their children who may not do as well in a traditional public school. Charter schools are more focused; embody the basics that work; offer instruction in the STEM fields; and stimulate project-based learning for all students that results in quantifiable results toward predetermined, measurable goals. Charter schools function on a for-profit mindset with an entrepreneurial approach. In many cases, charter schools operate on about two-thirds of the average funding for a child in a traditional public school.
The for-profit educational management organizations (EMOs) are developing education miracles in public education and are a fundamental part of charter school transformation across our nation. Miracles” by better preparing our children for the future in an education environment where the normality is spending more on public education and getting less. My research identified that charter schools operated by for-profit models take on a more entrepreneurial approach while providing a higher quality K-12 education. The charter school movement is one of the most efficient self-organizing education models in modern history. An educational efficiency endowed by social-entrepreneurs who refuse to accept the failures of K-12 education – failures that traditional public education shows no capacity to solve.
The charter school advantage
- Charter schools draw on partnerships within the community to provide services to students.
- Charter schools support underserved communities.
- Charter schools drive education innovation.
- Charter schools reduce bureaucracy.
- Charter schools promote transparency between the students, teachers and parents involved.
- Charter schools’ “duty” or “obligation” is equally distributed between students, teachers and parents.
In the charter school world, the greatest advantage is that modern, innovative education revolves around knowledge that students, teachers and parents learn through experience. Perhaps traditional education is evolving to better simulate the spontaneous adaptive nature of the human community it serves. These experiences become the next natural evolutionary level of education, today resulting in education success stories by the power of one inspired student at a time.
by AMERICAN WRITER Dr. Pietro Savo Tradition Books Publication © 2014
Manufacturing Research Practitioner ™ by Dr. Pietro Savo
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