Compare the offerings:

ALMOST ALL DISTRICT SCHOOLS  K-12 – Campus with playing fields, parking, student R&R areas. Bus loading and unloading areas. Library, resource rooms, nurse’s office, counselors offices, classrooms, teachers offices, student and staff rest rooms. Science labs, language labs, physical education gym(s) and PE facilities and playing fields. Teachers meeting/planning areas, central office administration, teacher supervision, and record keeping. Food services. Theater and performing arts center. Specialized instruction areas – math, arts, music, languages, computer/technology labs, PE. Custodial staff.  School(s) funded by educational tax dollars for operation. Capital funds from taxes and bond issues. Stringent teacher certification and competency requirements. Funds budgeted for ongoing curriculum improvement and faculty development. Community elected school board. Level of criminal activity: Very low.

Level of student dissatisfaction: Medium.

“Gee Mom, why do I have to take all those dumb subjects and work so hard?”

Rigor: 70% average across all disciplines.

THE AVERAGE CHARTER SCHOOL – selective grades. Rented building (often rented from the operators of the charter who will end up owning it). Rent, equipment, instructional materials, utilities maintenance comes out of dollars for student instruction. No capital funds. Building(s) not designed for instruction or students. Minimal health and sanitation facilities, no or inadequate science labs, inadequate classroom space. No or minimal library, no or minimal computer sciences labs. Inadequate staff, support staff, and administration. Partial or limited curriculum in selective subjects. Curriculum may not follow standards for fact-based essential skills. For example, fact-adverse science and civics, no PE, art, choir, performing arts, marching band, athletics, resource centers, counselors, heath personnel. Financed by tax dollars paid for each student. Those dollars must also be used to rent, buy, hire, equip, administer, and provide profit/compensation for charter operators. No or limited curriculum development and staff development. Curriculum may be purchased from biased, religious, ideological or other unproven sources. No teacher training for non-certified or under qualified teaching staff. No transportation. Very limited accountability. Students leave with partial educations. Governing boards are often the same people who own/run the charter, serve themselves and sometimes kids.  Level of criminal activity: High.

Level of student dissatisfaction: Low.  

“Gee Mom, I like my school. It’s easy and they don’t make me take all those subjects I don’t want.”

Rigor: 30% in limited disciplines.

Read more about the damage School Choice has done and is doing:

Vital Lies: The Irrelevance Of Our Schools In The Information Age.  Written as a format for national discussion.


One response to “Let Parents Decide: District or Charter?”

  1. This is SUCH an important comparison to make. . . can I recommend that you take the same points, put them in a table format: column 1: factor name; column 2: District School; column 3: Charter School.

    Then, you need some visual way to show where the advantage lies. You could highlight in yellow whether the district school or the charter school has the advantage. Or you could have additional columns with a checkbox to show which has the advantage.

    I think it would be obvious for all to see. Then send to Diane Ravitch’s blog for widespread dissemination.

    We were considering a charter school for all of about an hour, and it was because of some friend’s experience in the San Francisco Bay area in helping to run a Charter School that it became very clear that teachers and administrators are professionals for a reason – they know how to do this already. To have parents come in and think they can do the same, well, it is very difficult. And professional charter school groups, well, I haven’t seen many good ones.

    Some of the other factors are: (1) dealing with parental issues – they cannot be underestimated and the time involved can be substantial and (2) dealing with facilities issues (how much toilet paper do we need; whoops, system clogged again, etc. cannot be underestimated either.

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