Education reform has taken many forms over the years. For the past two decades charter schools have evolved as a method of inserting innovation into public education. But despite the growth in this sector of education many still ask, “What is a charter school?”
If you’re looking for research paper topics related to education, you should consider taking on the subject of charter schools. This form of education is poised to enter another growth spurt. Even so, there are many who still have doubts that the charter school format lives up to its promises.
What is a charter school?
According to the Center for Public Education (CPE) report on, “Charter schools: Finding out the facts: At a glance,” a charter school is a “non-religious public school operating under a contract, or ‘charter,’ that governs its operation. All details of school operation—its name, organization, management and curriculum—are set by the charter, which also outlines how the school will measure student performance.”
Charter schools operate within 39 states. Each region has its own rules on operational requirements and accountability. These schools operate with more autonomy than other public schools in terms of staffing, curriculum and financial management. It is for this reason that they have been perceived as more innovative. But this freedom of operation also makes it more difficult to evaluate results at a national level.
Although charter schools operate as non-profit entities, close to 16 percent of charter schools are owned and operated by for-profit educational management organizations (EMOs). Many of the for-profit EMOs are expanding their reach through the creation of virtual or cyber charter schools that deliver instruction via the Internet and electronic communication.
Charter Schools: Hope or Hype?
Do charter schools live up to their promise of innovation? To find out more go to Questia and read the book, Charter Schools: Hope or Hype? by Jack Buckley and Mark Schneider.
The idea behind the creation of the charter school was to create an environment where a school would be publicly funded and yet choose its own curriculum and method of operation in return for greater accountability.
Given the failure of school voucher programs, legislators have begun to put forward charter schools as a viable way to use choice as a means to reform schools. But Buckley and Schneider found that the choice of school is often related more to race or class than to academic environment.
“One possibility is an adverse outcome at the level of the schools: to the extent that choice is driven by demographics rather than academics, unfettered choice may actually decrease the pressure on schools to improve their academic performance and one of the most basic promises of choice may dissipate,” the authors said.
Do charter schools outperform public schools? Grace Chen reviewed the results of recent studies on the subject in her March 3, 2015, article for PublicSchoolReview.com, “Charter Schools vs. Traditional Public Schools: Which One is Under-Performing?”
According to Chen, several studies indicate that performance between the two types of schools is very similar with the exception of low-income and minority students who appear to experience more gains at charter schools.
But Chen asserted that this does not necessarily mean that charter schools are better. Remember that attendance at a charter school is a choice exercised by the parents and the schools. We can assume, suggests Chen, that the more motivated parents will seek out the best charter school while those parents who are less involved with their children’s education will resort to the public schools.
And how are public schools reacting to the competition from charter schools? “The innovation and curricular experimentation seen in charter schools benefits not just charter school students, but also public school students whose schools introduce new programs of their own in order to keep pace with those offered at charter schools,” Chen stated.
Learn more about topics related to education at Questia.
What is your opinion on charter schools? Have you ever attended a charter school or know anyone who has? Tell us in the comments.