The school reform movement is moving the wrong way
I think we can all agree that, though it has its fair share of issues, we have been given an amply-resourced and more-than-adequate education in the Montgomery County Public Schools system. This is something that we sometimes take for granted; a public school education of this quality is not a given and is fairly rare in other cities around the country. That's not due to an abundant amount of bad teachers or a widespread lack of motivation in students, but rather to the tight testing requirements and scarce funding in many public schools. Many people have noticed that some public schools are struggling (though it is often implied that more are in straits than is really the case) and are taking action in an attempt to provide better alternative options for students. These options, which are called charter schools, are pushing the widespread movement for the privatization of education. But the effects are not better. In many cases, they're much, much worse.
Many charter schools have been created to increase the achievement of students in the surrounding area which is a wholly admirable effort. However, it's been proven that most haven't been successful in doing that. According to a report published in the Washington Post, charter schools in Pennsylvania had, on average, lower scores than those of public schools. And while these scores in and of themselves are problematic—they're based largely off the standardized test results of students in the school, usually an inaccurate representation of the learning that's actually going inside the building—they still show that the original goal of charter schools is not being realized.
There's one goal of charter schools that is being met: making rich people richer. Though they rely largely on public money, charter schools are operated by private investors and companies who also put their own money into them, and come out with more. "It's the most high in demand, it's the most recession-resistant. And a great opportunity set with 500 schools starting every year. It's a two and a half billion dollar opportunity set in rough measure annually," David Brian, president and CEO and of Entertainment Properties Trust, which owns movie theaters, recreational facitlities and charter schools said about the privatized education business in a video interview with CNBC. This just shows that there are people in charge of charter schools who don't think that they're great because they will give students a good education. They think that they're great because it's a good investment. If the country starts to look at schools in that way, we begin to lose sight of the very purpose of them. It's not to accumulate money, but rather to provide students with a good education. Charter schools are surely accomplishing the former, but have been shown to fall short with the latter.
There are parts of the public education system in the United States which need to be reformed. But no students should have to undergo the reform movement of privatization that is now in place and growing at a steady pace. The focus of education has been taken off of students and placed on money and tests. If that's not a call for reform–true, effective reform that supports and strengthens public schools–then I don't know what is.
Eleanor Linafelt. Hi there! I'm Eleanor, one of the Editors-in-Chief for SCO this year. I love reading books, playing cello and electric bass, and surfing and swimming at the beach. I am also an Emily Dickinson fanatic. More »