I re-blogged it with the promise of an actual post later tonight containing my own personal thoughts on the issue. So here we go.
First off, I am a charter school teacher. I teach at a Charter School in Northern California, and I don’t really want to get more specific than that because I need my job.
I agree wholeheartedly with the article and it’s analysis of charter schools. But honestly, I was surprised to see that many of my own complaints about charter schools were not brought up.
My first complaint has to do with the fact that charter schools are immune from the same requirements for teachers as public schools. In order to become a public school teacher, you must prove competency in the subject matter that you wish to teach. For example, I wanted to teach secondary English, aka English for grades 6-12. I was required to take a multi-section test that tested my competency on grammar, English language origins, reading comprehension, English content concepts, writing strategies, writing competency, etc., etc., etc.
Charter schools do not have to require the same credentials as public schools for their teachers. We have several teachers, at the very school I work at, that are credentialed to be elementary aged teachers, but are instead teaching middle school students. While that may seem fine and dandy, there are significant differences in the educational strategies that work for kids under the age of 10 and kids going through puberty.
My second complaint comes from the fact that charter school teachers cannot become part of the teachers’ union. I am not offered the same protections, the same rights, the same defenses as public school teachers because Icannotjoin. It’s not even an option. Now this may not be a necessary truth for all charter schools, but the fact that it is a stark reality in any at all is an issue. Complain all you want about the teachers’ unions; they protect teachers.
Charter schools also do not offer any form of tenure or any job security. Many familiar with the public school system are familiar with the idea of tenure, and I’ll add my voice to the fact that tenure is definitely not the ideal system for ensuring teacher job security. Unfortunately, tenure does allow bad teachers to remain in the system for longer periods of time. But the problem is that, as of right now, there isn’t a real viable alternative option.
But in working at a charter school instead of a public school, I have zero job security. I work on a yearly contract basis. This is great in some aspects, because it does allow the school to weed out teachers who are incompetent. However, it puts teachers at risk of being unjustly let go, as well as encouraging a high turn-over rate to public schools that do have job security given a few years of service.
But enough about the teachers. Let’s talk about the students.
Charter schools are strongly based on test scores. You know, those tests that are highly criticized as ineffective measures of education? Yeah, those. Last year alone, enrichment classes were cancelled for two weeks to provide students with intensive test taking strategy classes. You heard me right. Students were pulled from their classes that encouraged creativity, physical activity, multicultural experiences to focus on test taking strategies for two full weeks. Why? Unfortunately, charter schools are very reliant upon high test scores to prove their competency because they are run just like a business. If they can market to parents that have increased test scores, more students will want to enroll, thus increasing school-wide funding.
Charter schools also do not have to follow the same unit scheduling as public schools. At my school, students only attend science classes every other day. Let me repeat that again. At my school, students only attend science classes every other day. They share the same period with PE and alternate between PE and science. This absolutely infuriates me. Science is so essential to our students’ education, and yet students only receive instruction in science every other day. There are days I feel like marching in to my principal’s office with a list of marketable jobs and asking him which ones don’t require a strong background in science.
Sadly, with the current status for most public school teachers, I’m going to be stuck in the charter school game for a few years. I’m sure by the end, I’ll have far more complaints about charter schools, but for now, I’ll leave it at this.
Charter schools are failing our students.