Let's look at some criticisms of charter schools and some frustrating elements from the charter school side.
- Charter Schools perform, on average, below traditional public schools.
- Charter Schools take money away from the local schools.
- Charter Schools cream the top students
These are just a few of the common criticisms that charter schools have to endure, often unfairly. Are there low performing charter schools? ABSOLUTELY. Most of us in the charter school movement have been open about that. We've also been open about improving or closing those that fail. However, there is a bigger question that many fail to ask. How long does it take to prove a new concept or method? There are two more questions that I've been asking myself lately that are related. How much lower must a charter school perform that it is statistically verifiable that the charter school is failing, especially given the value of freedom involved in allowing for choice and options? The second is what is an appropriate measure for closing schools? There is a huge debate about the value of standardized testing as the sole measure of a school or teacher. What other measures might we add? For example, many charter schools emphasize character or hands on learning. Is it possible that those methods or philosophies lead to lower test scores, but better people and more successful people, in the long run. No one believes that knowledge alone makes a successful contributing member of society.
So, what is a poor charter school to do?
- Do the best you can for your students.
- Be honest about your philosophy, method and results.
- Learn from successful charter schools.
- Do not be a lone wolf.
For more information, see my previous post about secrets to success in charter schools.