Bernie and Charter Schools

Charter schools have been a hot topic in recent years because of its school of choice regulations, yet, many Americans have a difficult time deciphering the difference between public, charter, and private schools. Most recently, Bernie Sanders (D), a presidential candidate, announced a policy, A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education, that would ‘Create an education system that works for all people.’ Bernie’s plan targets 10 key items:

  1. Combating Racial Discrimination and School Segregation
  2. End the Unaccountable Profit-Motive of Charter Schools
  3. Equitable Funding for Public Schools
  4. Strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  5. Give Teachers a Much-Deserved Raise and Empower them to Teach
  6. Expand After-School/Summer Education Programs
  7. Universal School Meals
  8. Community Schools
  9. School Infrastructure
  10. Make Schools a Safe and Inclusive Place for All

Since this blog focuses on charters schools, I’d like to just talk about number 2 on the list: Ending the unaccountable profit-motive of charter schools. Bernie insists that charter schools have impacted minority communities with its on-going racial segregation. Bernie indicated, “Seventeen percent of charter schools are 99 percent minority, compared to 4 percent of traditional public schools. This has led the NAACP, the NEAAFT and others to criticize the charter movement for intensifying racial segregation.”

So what are charter schools and how are they different from public and private schools?

Charter schools are tuition-free, open-enrollment schools of choice that are independent public schools. Meaning, they operate like a public school, but have freedom in the way they govern. Charter schools have to follow educational laws, but have some independence on some rules. Many charter schools operate based on a lottery system. Students can reside outside of the school’s area and still attend.

Private schools are privately funded, non-state schools. Private schools have almost no government oversight, meaning, they have the freedom to govern as they see fit. The student selection process is up to the school and the students are charged a tuition. Many private schools are affiliated with a particular religion. Students can come from all neighboring areas.

Public schools are tuition-free, publicly funded state schools. They receive government funding and must meet specific criteria set by the American governing body, meaning, they must follow all local, state and federal educational laws. Students must attend the public schools that are located near their residence.

I have worked at both public schools and charter schools. The experiences varied, based on the district’s [or network] leadership and how they allocated funds. I have seen the good and bad that come with both institutions. I do know that our education system, as a whole, needs a transformative overhaul and it’s important to have the conversations that are currently taking place.

I view this topic as I view our politics. If you’re for charter schools, you’re most likely going to support charter schools. If you’re for public education, well . . . you’re going to support public schools. If you have zero idea what a charter school is or are simply uniformed of this topic in general. . . you’re probably not going to give a sh*t either way.

Read Bernie’s plan at: https://berniesanders.com/a-thurgood-marshall-plan-for-public-education/

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