Future of Controversial Charter Schools

Number+of+students+enrolled+in+charter+schools%0A%0ACourtesy+of+CNN.com
Number of students enrolled in charter schools

Courtesy of CNN.com

Number of students enrolled in charter schools Courtesy of CNN.com

Hannah Ni'Shuilleabhain

Hannah Ni'Shuilleabhain

Number of students enrolled in charter schools Courtesy of CNN.com

Catherine J. '18

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Although Trump said little during his campaign about his plans for American education, it is clear that he has plans to funnel billions of dollars into “school choice” programs. School choice programs are grades K-12 schools that provide an alternative to public education. Unlike public schools, these charter schools are publicly funded and independently run, which means they don’t have to follow the district’s rules while still receiving tax money.

There are both advocates and critics for this style of school. Advocates say that the freedom that charter schools have helps them avoid the policies that cause traditional public schools to fail. The charter school idea taps into the two important American ideals: innovation and fairness. Charter schools also cater to a wide variety of races and have a higher percentage of minority students than even public schools do. For students living in poverty, charter schools may be their only alternative to public education with private schools being too expensive.

Critics believe that the shortage of guidelines causes charter schools to lack proper accountability because charter school administrators have a lot of uncontrolled power. In addition, critics point out that charter schools take money from the poorest public schools in their area, even though the majority of children attend the public school.

Even though they receive an inordinate amount money, charter school students score significantly lower on tests than students of the many larger public schools around them. That said, charter schools do thrive in areas with charter-friendly regulations like Washington D.C., Arizona and Colorado. States with strict regulations on charter schools like Iowa don’t have successful charter schools because the regulations don’t allow for any freedom of curriculum and rules, thus making them very similar to regular public schools.

Betsy DeVos is President Trump’s newly elected Secretary of Education. Even though this cabinet position doesn’t have much power, there was a large amount of controversy around her nomination. She is widely thought of as an “out-of-touch billionaire,” which is not popular in the conversations surrounding the charter school issue.

President Trump’s charter school plan is to increase the amount spent per child at a charter school from $8,866 per student to $18,000 per student. A mix of federal and state funds will go towards this large increase. There is also a chance that the Trump administration may redefine the ideals of a charter school altogether.

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