A higher rate of college acceptance. Higher average GPAs. Better student morale. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it is.
Charter schools have come into popularity in recent years as general education campuses have been losing funding, therefore losing programs, followed by loss of popularity with the community. Federal budgeting for education is “discretionary,” not mandatory, making it often less than priority.
Education accounts for 6.28% of 29.34% of the total budget of the US.
By far, the biggest category of discretionary spending is spending on the Pentagon and related military programs. Examples of other well-known programs paid for by discretionary spending include the early childhood education program Head Start (included in Housing & Community), Title I grants to disadvantaged schools and Pell grants for low-income college students (Education), food assistance for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), training and placement for unemployed people provided by Workforce Investment Boards (in Social Security, Unemployment and Labor), and scientific research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), among many others.
By comparison, Germany’s Department of Education and Research accounts for 29.77% of overall federal spending.
But money aside, the actual function of a charter school seems to confuse many people. Firstly, charter schools are not inherently ‘better.’ The ‘betterness’ of a school is much in the eye of the beholder. Charter schools invite private groups of community members, often businesses or like organizations, to commit to opening a campus to fill gaps left by the public campuses. This means that politically charged groups can come in, set up shop in their own design, and teach the way they want to whom they choose, because they have been made a necessity. Instead of districts filling their own gaps for the betterment of all students, they facilitate the cliquing of a demographic of students away from the rest of the community population that is then left to deal with the gaps in the original schools. Unless all cities and all districts become almost entirely filled with charter schools for every demographic, public schools will continue to become weaker and weaker as money is funneled away from general education and into charter education. This means isolating groups of students. This means legalized segregation by mindset. This means students are isolated from differing opinions, only being exposed to a limited dogma, rather than multiple, and having the opportunity to develop their own opinions.
My take: Parents who are frightened by the idea that their child may have to form their own opinions are why homeschooling and charter education exist, and this sheltering of children is why the Millenial and Gen Z stereotyping of the “special snowflake” exist. And yet, somehow, it’s the Baby Boomers and Gen X begging for charter and private education? Fun fact: You can’t simultaneously create and degrade a population the same way you can’t simultaneously call today’s youth lazy and reckless. We’re either doing something or nothing, but it can’t be both, guys. Decide which is worse: Youth expressing their opinions and developing societal patterns that Older Generations may find unsavory, or staying out of it and following existing tides like drones. Unique or Drones? Unique or Drones? For a generation so afraid that kids aren’t being taught the ‘right’ history, you seem rather anxious to give kids a much narrower scope of history. Every year, my grandparents inspect my public school textbooks to make sure they agree with what and how I’m being taught. My neutral and non-political textbook never satisfies them. An American history teacher in my district stood at the front of the room lecturing that all Civil Rights supporters were unamerican terrorists, and they stand in support of filling whole buildings with teachers as politically charged as she, in supporting the Charter system replacing general education. My neutral public education dissatisfies them, they criticize that my public education is too ‘left’ and is ‘filling today’s youth’s heads with propaganda and (ew) fake news. Pick one, Grandma, is a Charter school teaching only ‘left’ or ‘right’ history better or worse than a public school where one teacher may be preaching over the neutral books? Make up your mind, do you want Charter schools that can legally decide to only teach their side of history to exist, even if it means that some aren’t teaching your side? One cannot exist without the other. Accept that Charter schools are polarized, and won’t always be in your favor, or don’t support any Charter schools at all. If you want to give your kids one dogma, pay to send them to private school (also, don’t have kids. That’s cruelty.)
Every generation has stood for something. Let the Millenial and Gen Z generation stand for the betterment of our society through education. The first thing to happen in toxic or dictated societies is the limiting of education. Knowledge is quite literally power, and only those who have something to hide are afraid of educating those they are hiding from. The first step to a healthy society is Free and Appropriate Public Education, which means fair, accessible, prioritized education. A society that can debate, agree and disagree, then move on peacefully is a healthy society. As America stands, very few are doing the talking, because very few know how. For too long, the separation between federal and self has existed. This separation has made for a system far too convoluted for many to understand, let alone challenge. We have the right to petition, but who knows how to begin? We have the right to speak, but who has that pen that’s supposedly mightier than the sword to do so?
Americans have the right to Charter, we have the right to Private, we have the right to Home education. But we also have the right to the FAPE, and that means keeping our general public schools funded and functioning, not suffering under the weight of the specialized Charter schools. Agreed?