Can Charter Schools Save Urban Education?

There is a quiet storm brewing in American schools. While the nation is keeping close watch on health care reform and the nation’s economies, the base of our school system, traditional public schools, are failing and may have a new competitor. When Bush was in office, the question of traditional public school vs. charter schools was hotly debated. Many suggested that charter schools should not be expanded because they undermined traditional public schools, didn’t protect their employees, and were not successful at educating students despite their promise. However, under the Obama administration, there is much less public debate and quietly charter schools are being advanced as a solution to the dilemmas of urban education. The quiet arrival of charters should be raising questions and debate, but it is not.

The No Child Left Behind Act signed in by George W. Bush in 2002 placed a great deal of weight on schools to equalize student test scores by 2014. Well, we’re 4 years from the deadline and we’re about as close to that goal as we are Jetsons flying cars. Recently, Barack Obama introduced his education reform blueprint, which takes aim at creating college and career ready students by 2020. The bill places a great deal of emphasis on teachers and school administrators to turn around sinking schools and offers consequences for the failure to do so.

No one wants a failing school and only a few know how to successfully turn around a failing school. On top of that, failing schools are often located next to other failing schools which makes a failing school district. Few know how to turn around a failing school, but nearly no one has shown us they know how to turn around a failing district. The issue is not just creating success in one school, but creating success in multiple schools!

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Filed under: Economics, Education, Food for Thought, Harlem, New York City, Obama, Race

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