Research paper: Charter Schools in Massachusetts

Introduction

To begin with, charter schools are generally public schools that cordially agree to give particular results in exchange for certain freedom of education. There is no restrictions as to who is to start the charter school and this can be, either a company or an individual who must agree with a standard application process which consist of, how to meet certain goals, brief description of mission of the charter school, and a preferred plan for implementation. In Massachusetts charter schools are often started by parents and or community members who have a wide spread approach to public education. However, for charter school to operate it must get its license to operate from either states charter school district or county school district that has the authority to give a go head for the schools to begin running. In addition, there is normally an actual contract which requires the charter schools to produce good results such as positive academic progress. The schools are controlled by the elected board of governance which is often made up of community leaders as well as parents. Charter schools are unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement (Ornstein, et al.209). In that regard, this research paper will therefore focus on identify and analysis different pros and cons of a charter school especially in Massachusetts. Additionally, the paper will also research and discus four main reasons that are associated to the identified pros and cons of charter school.

Thesis; what are the pros and cons of a charter school

According to many studies, there are quite a number of factors that make s school to become successful. These factors are closely associated to either some of the advantages or the disadvantages of such institutions. Therefore, this section of research explores some of the advantages and disadvantages of Charter Schools in Massachusetts. The first advantage of charter school is usually tied to the very reason the school was created. Most charters are started as a way to do school differently, to reach a certain type of student. Other schools may focus on the arts, science and math, or online learning (Rofes and Lisa 8). These schools give students another choice of how to learn. This is an important advantage since there are so many different learning styles and interests. Moreover Charter school communities are typically close-knit, since all applicants choose to attend for a common reason. Charters are often smaller schools as well, lending to a closer community where every teacher knows your child’s name. Parental involvement is often encouraged and sometimes even required by charters, which adds to the sense of family (Ornstein, et al.210). The small size and parental involvement often equates to less discipline problems overall. Finally, Charters are more autonomous than traditional public schools, so they are flexible to meet the needs of the classroom and are free to do what works, as opposed to the more one-size-fits-all approach. Since the teachers do have more autonomy, the charters often draw high-quality certified teachers. At our local charter school, each teacher must be state-certified and Montessori certified.

Even though most of the charter schools have an advantage of being housed in an existing school facility, most start-up charters must find and finance their own location. This means the school is more dependent on families and the community for donations and fundraising. Our local charter school started with 44 students in a small rented trailer, but nine years later, has 250 students in a beautiful new permanent building. It requires a lot of fundraising, though. Furthermore, smaller charter schools often do not have much to offer in sports or extracurricular activities, compared to the larger traditional public schools (Ornstein, et al.210). You will need to look to community teams and activities for a wider selection. Also, attending a charter school usually means the family must provide transportation. There may be other requirements for attendance as well, such as school uniform and mandatory parent volunteer hours.

Adjusted curriculum to meet the student needs

A charter school can break up the day to provide students with more time on the core subjects they need most. Charter school teachers have a say in the curriculum they teach and can change materials to meet students’ needs. As part of the Race to the Top Grant, the Department has developed over 100 Model Curriculum Units (MCUs). These units are intended to help educators with implementation of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and were created by teams of teachers from across the Commonwealth with guidance and support from ESE curriculum and content specialist (Frontier and James  44 ). All MCUs use the Understanding by Design process developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay Massachusetts’ educators are encouraged to adopt the units as they are, adapt the units to meet their curriculum needs, and/or use the units as models for developing their own curriculum.

Less disciplinary problems because of disciplined learning environment

Unlike public school, charter school hold high standards of disciple policies which monitor and respond according to any indiscipline cases among the students. This has also ensure an excellently disciplined planning environment which has always help the school administrations to involve less in handling cases or problems of indiscipline among the students. Charter school teachers are also vigilant to spot and punish unruly students (Paté-Cornell, et al.52). To some extent, some indiscipline cases punished by suspension of the involved student, thus serving as a warning to other students as they remain focused on their academics (Finn, et al.49). However, criticism has long held that strict discipline prevents these charter schools from educating the highest-needs students, since they implicitly leads to unruly students to leave the school.

Often by lottery to get in meaning there are minimum seating available class rooms leading up to waiting list

Demand for charter schools has been strong since they first opened in 1995. Because parents had to enter enrollment lotteries for each school, their children’s names often appeared on multiple wait lists. The state implemented new rules in 2013 eliminating all duplicates and most names that had been on lists for more than one year. One of the challenges with the charter school is scarcity of learning resources which is caused by the high population of students in such schools (Griffith and Anne 58). In Massachusetts, according to the study by internal charter school association, with an estimated 365,000 students on their waiting lists, thousands of public charter schools are forced to conduct lotteries each year to determine which applicants will be able to enroll in the fall.

Unfortunately, many states and jurisdictions continue to maintain artificial caps on the number of schools and students, despite the strong demand for more public charter schools. Consequently, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and charter support organizations around the country strongly recommend that schools publicize their lotteries to demonstrate the strong popularity of charter schools and, as they may occur, unfair limitations on their growth. This in conjunction with classroom scarcity has result into many parents and their kids jamming the waiting list.

 

Many believe it take fund from public schools

Charters receive funding only when parents choose to enroll their children and only the amount the district would normally spend to educate each student. If districts are no longer educating the children, should they keep the funds? Districts also receive additional state aid to reimburse them for lost funds. For instance, the Massachusetts Legislature has funded district reimbursement at 96% or better in 9 of the last 12 years. Also, no locally generated revenues, such as property taxes, are transferred to charters; all charter funding is taken from a community’s state aid, which leads some to incorrectly argue that charters are taking an unfair share (Hopes, Fears & Reality: A Balanced Look at American Charter Schools in. Seattle 13). Only in years when every area of the budget experienced deep cuts was it shortchanged. To date, districts have received nearly $700 million in reimbursements which is slightly less than the amount received by the charter schools; this it is true the government and other education funding institutions channel more funds to charter school at the expense of the public schools especially in Massachusetts.

Conclusion

In summary, despite having some disadvantages, Charter schools not only in Massachusetts, but also globally has highly recognized standards for academic excellence. However, the board of management and the teaching staff play a key role in determining the success of the charter schools. In addition, proper funding and discipline environment conducive for student learning are also major pillars in the positive progress of the schools.

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