A federal grant of 21 million dollars was
recently awarded to the Michigan Department of Education for the
purposes of developing and improving charter schools throughout the
state. Charter schools will have to compete over the next three
years in order to receive the funds that will be allocated toward
staff development, classroom supplies and marketing. Instead of
going to charter schools, state funding should be spent towards
eradicating the existing economic deficiencies of public school
systems. These misplaced funds will only serve to jeopardize the
future of public schools and leaves students vulnerable to the
horrid effects of privatization.

Janna Hutz

Charter schools are privatized public schools — they are
privately owned, but publicly funded and open to all. However,
unlike public schools, where school board officials are elected,
charter school administrators are appointed by private interests
and cannot be held accountable by the people that they are
servicing. Contributing to this dearth of accountability, a
generous donor will perhaps have a greater influence on the school
than the community because private donors are essential to the
sustenance of these schools. This shifts the focus away from the
students and community members toward profits and private
ambitions.

Further, in order to receive funding, public schools are held to
standards that are tailored toward the best interest of the
student. Curriculums and teacher qualifications must meet a
specified set of criterion. Charter schools are better able to
circumvent these standards and may make decisions autonomous from
the state’s recommendations. This significantly impairs the
state and parents’ means of holding charter schools liable to
both high academic standards and providing students with suitable
learning environments.

Proponents of charter schools argue that they are held
accountable through their success and ability to attract enough
students to remain open. However, the accountability of a free
market is unacceptable because it is the student who suffers most.
Student cannot afford to gamble their education on trial and error
efforts. If a charter school is forced to close, the student is
then subject to the troubles of the public school system whose very
same funds were diverted to the failed charter school.

Charter schools exacerbate the troubles that the ramshackle
public school system is already facing. State funding follows the
student to the charter school, consequently detracting funding from
public schools. This is not only the case with monetary units, but
human resources as well. Teachers are lured toward charter schools
with the promise of higher salaries, leaving public schools with
little money and less qualified teachers.

Public schools were created for the welfare of the community.
Teachers and parents have a invested interest in the progress and
academic growth of their students. However, when private
organizations become involved in community education, the focus
shifts away from the students and toward profits; public funds can
be used for private marketing and a child’s education becomes
a number factored into the bottom-line.

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