Charter schools leave many in our public schools behind

Charter schools leave many in our public schools behind

In Monterey, Calif., local high school students have more to choose from than just the standard electives and extra-curriculars. Monterey High offers an exclusive program called the Monterey Academy of Oceanic Science for its highest achieving students, focusing on aquatic science and marine biology.

For 19 years, MAOS has been a publicly funded, exclusive division of Monterey High School, but this month it takes the first steps in trying to gain its independence and become a charter school.

In many school districts in the U.S., schools are beginning to consider becoming charter schools, free from regulation by local school boards. With the amount of contempt with which Americans today view inefficient bureaucracy that stands in the way of true progress, it doesn’t come as a surprise that some schools believe they can run themselves more effectively than by an elected board.

However, repercussions come with splitting a district population into one group that is chosen to enter the high-achieving curriculum, and the others who are left behind to continue their state-regulated education without the added benefit of interacting with their often more intelligent peers. In the hopes of further enriching the education of our schools’ best and brightest, are we inadvertently limiting what our schools’ lowest achieving, and arguably most needy students, are exposed to?

To answer this question, one must get familiarized with what laws govern our education system, such as the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001. In accordance with this act, schools whose standardized test scores fall below a certain satisfactory point have their funding cut. Despite being viewed as counterproductive by many, the policy has begun to change the face of education, including introducing a sudden boon in charter schools.

When the highest scoring students in a given district are suddenly relocated, that has an effect on the collective average of the school left behind. In accordance with NCLB, the public schools’ new low test scores have lost them some of the money they were formerly receiving to keep their school producing the type of test scores they’re now seeing from a privately-funded charter school. On one hand, it appears that the kids who receive this quality education are truly benefiting. On the other hand, when looking at what splitting a public school does to those left behind, at what cost are charter schools succeeding?

Alex Sage, Columbiana