~ By Brooke
As a relatively recent college graduate, I have been giving thought to my career, as have many of my friends. There are friends of mine who have begun their careers as teachers in charter schools who have been pleased with their career decisions. Now, as I have recently started working with The Prevention Researcher, I am becoming more aware of adolescents and their struggles, one of them being school. While charter schools serve a wide population, generally they tend to serve students who may be overlooked or who are having difficulty in traditional public schools.
Charter schools have been around since the late eighties, and only 40 states have laws pertaining to the creation and oversight of charter schools. They offer an alternative for parents and students as they seek the right school. Some parents spend a great deal of time considering alternatives to public school. Now, with increasing popularity they are able to consider charter schools as well. This new education option creates an atmosphere of competition and accountability, which both benefit the students.
In urban communities especially, parents often become disenchanted with some aspect of traditional public schools and seek other options. I found this linked article by Becca Blond at Bnet in which parents turn to charter schools for a better fit with their child. With the ability to create their own rules and curriculum, charter schools and teachers can better tailor lessons to their students’ learning styles and interests. Some have longer days, go year round and maintain smaller classes than many of the nearby public schools. Along with this freedom comes the great responsibility to remain accountable by producing results. In their 2003 research study, Jay Green, Greg Forster and Marcus Winters compared charter schools to nearby traditional public schools. Their findings concluded that charter schools serving “general student populations” performed better than their public school counterparts by approximately three percentile points in math and two in reading.
These findings are encouraging, and I think it can be attributed to the smaller classes and adapted style of the schools. Charter schools offer parents, teachers and most importantly, students ,a choice. I am interested to see what the future holds for charter schools, their students and the education system in general.