The media claims that the answer to improving academic achievement in the New York City schools are more charter schools. The education reformers falsely claim that charter schools give more students a chance for a quality education that the neighborhood public schools do not. What a fallacy! Even in "Waiting for Superman", the education reform propaganda film admits that every four out of five charter schools (80%) fail and eventually close down. What are the problem with charter schools? Let me count the ways.
First, there is an extremely high teacher turnover with some schools seeing a complete teacher turnover within three years. In many charter schools the teachers are not even certified to teach the subject and may not even have a teaching license. Many fail to have curriculum knowledge and simply "teach to the test".
Second, the discipline code is so stringent that many students with behavior issues are expelled from the school and other students are counseled out for academic issues. This is especially true in testing grades. For example the charter school will let the family know that if they don't remove their child from the school, the child will be "left back" to repeat the grade but if the family agrees to remove the child, they will allow the child to advance to the next grade when he or she enters the next school.
Third, The charter schools emphasis "test preparation" and concentrate on English and Math. Many parents complain about the lack of gym, art, music, and even Science and Social Studies It is "testing over teaching" and students who are "English Language Learners" and Special Education students need not apply since the charter schools claim they lack resources to help these students. Quite a few charters have an application process that screens out students that need additional resources and the ones that slip through are counseled out.
Fourth, most charters demand parent participation as a condition of student acceptance. Therefore, uninvolved parents will shy away from charters if they know that they must give time to the school.
Finally, the charter schools lack experienced Administrators and in "for profit schools" the school board who require that the school turn a profit. It 's not unusual for a charter school to have three principals in a given year.The result is a high turnover of administrators as they are fired at will and a new group of administrators come in to try to bring their own plans to a sinking ship.
Just recently, a news article from Reuters showed how charter schools excluded undesirable students and is a must read.
In summary, the statement that "the grass is always greener on the other side" applies here but the truth is that with high staff turnover, draconian discipline policies and the narrow focus on test preparation make charter schools a poor educational option to the neighborhood public schools.