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No to Charter Schools

Maya Manjarrez, Editor in Chief

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One day, I was picking up my niece from her school, Edison Elementary in Santa Monica, and noticed that her campus was 10 times better than any school I had attended or visited. The campus was clean; every classroom had the most up-to-date technologies, and it was overall a nicer environment to be in. So I asked myself: “What is the difference between my school and my niece’s?” I knew it was an elementary school, but I didn’t think that was the reason it was better. I did some research and found out that her school was a charter school and then I asked myself another question: “What is a charter school anyway?”

The term “charter school” is defined as “a publically funded independent school established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority.” I also found out that charter schools only have to meet the student standards that were established in the charter, so not necessarily A-G requirements. Teacher certification varies from school to school, which means not all teachers have to be certified by the state. And, not everyone has access to these schools because most charter school’s acceptance is based on a lottery.
All of these characteristics of a charter school raised some red flags for me. If A-G requirements are not covered, college standards will not be met and they won’t accept those students. For example, a girl from Milwaukee was told that she should get a GED before applying to college because her charter school diploma was worthless in college’s eyes, according to Megahn Dwyer from an article in 2014 for fox6now.com. The last time I checked, school’s purpose is to get students to college. With lower standards and promises of college acceptances, there is a lot of disappointment for parents and students alike. Also, uncertified teachers don’t sound too appealing. It’s like letting a doctor practice medicine without a medical degree.

The reason why charter schools look so much better than public schools is because of their high-test scores. Why do these schools, with lower standards, do better than public schools? Public schools teach all students, no matter what their level of learning is. You can’t be expelled from a public school for low-test scores, whereas in a charter school, you can. The fact that not all students get access to an education at a charter school despite the fact that the schools receive public money is not what the American educational system represents. All students deserve an education, no matter what their test scores are.

Yes, public schools don’t give teachers as much flexibility in what their students are learning, and standardized tests are a pain in the neck, but no one said that public schools were perfect.

I researched what nations had the best educational systems, and one nation that caught my eye was Finland. The children don’t start school until they are seven years old, children rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens, and there is only one standardized test, which students take when they are 16. All students, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms. Teachers are paid as much and are as valued in their society as doctors and lawyers. And, all schooling is publically funded, giving access to an education inevitable. This also proves that a public school system can be beneficial to students and teachers alike. When teachers and students are happy, the results are outstanding. According to businessinsider.com, 93 percent of Finnish students graduate from high school and 66 percent go to college. In the US, 83 percent of all students graduate from high school according to The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss. Only about 20 percent of students attend college according to statista.com.

The American education system needs serious reform, but we must not take the charter school route. Charter schools only divide students and make them feel like they aren’t good enough.

I was very disappointed when charter school-advocate Betsy DeVos was officially elected for Secretary of Education. The fact that senators willingly voted for her for this position knowing that she has never visited or attended a public school along with her children, has little to no political experience, and has private investments in many charter schools was just sad. This proves how broken our government is as a whole, and how unwilling Republicans are to compromise. Her selection could eventually lead to more charter schools, and charter schools shouldn’t even exist.

This is a charter school take-over, and now that DeVos is in office, the public school system will be neglected even further. This cannot happen. DeVos is not qualified or even interested in improving public schools. Charter schools aren’t the answer to our educational system problems and shouldn’t be treated like a valid solution. We must fix this broken system. Call your local senator Dianne Feinstein at (202) 224-3841 to express your concern with our newly elected Secretary of Education.

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The student news site of Venice High School
No to Charter Schools