Charter schools could be the solution to the vast disparities in schooling quality that plague the American system.
In their newest video “The Education Miracle Everyone Hates,” Kite and Key creators explain how charter schools are overlooked as a way to improve the education opportunities available to poor children, even though their students are “achieving incredible results.”
The 1980s creation of charter schools, the video explains, came as Americans were “freaking out” about the “dramatic” Nation At Risk report that demonstrated how the nation’s educational failures were putting children, especially minorities, far behind other countries.
“The report revealed, for instance, that while 13 percent of the country’s 17-year-olds were considered functionally illiterate, the rate amongst minority youth may have been as high as 40 percent,” the video states. “It seemed like an intractable problem. No one knew what to do.”
Charter schools began to spring up around the country to combat the education disparities, but as the video notes, “not everyone was thrilled” because they did not understand how the schools worked.
“Polling has shown that nearly 50 percent of Americans think charters are private schools or that they can teach religion,” the video continues. “They are not, and they can’t. They also don’t charge tuition or have entrance exams. Charters are public schools. What makes them different is that their principals and teachers get to decide for themselves how best to meet their students’ educational needs. Yeah, believe it or not, that’s not how it works in your average public school.”
This new approach of incorporating charter schools, with many “in the same building as traditional public schools” in cities such as New York, boosted education performance in minority areas.
“In 2018, the charter classes in those buildings were five times more likely to have a majority of students pass a standardized English test. On math, they were seven times more likely,” the video states. “And that’s not an isolated outcome. Research from Princeton and the Brookings Institution found that just three years in the highest performing charters was enough to eliminate the education gap between black and white students.”
This fast and effective way to ensure American youth are getting the education they need to move forward, however, is afforded to few American kids.
“Despite that success, charters are still only a small part of the educational path,” the video notes. “Only about 7 percent of public school students attended one.”
This is because “the government controls how many charter schools get to open.” While the video narrator agrees that the many criticisms of charter schools underperforming are “serious,” he also notes that the “best of them are achieving incredible results and they’re doing it for the nation’s most vulnerable children.”
“Two-thirds of the nation’s charter school students are non-white. Many of them are in tough neighborhoods. And without charters, their options would look pretty bleak,” the video notes.
Recent studies show learning gaps between middle-schoolers in affluent, mostly-white areas and poor, urban areas are as much as “four grade levels.”
“The results in the nation’s best charter schools prove that we don’t have to accept those outcomes,” the video concludes. “And the people who need the most know this. In 2019, there were over 23,000 children waitlisted for admission to charter schools in Massachusetts alone. Nationwide, that number is over a million.”
“There’s no bigger issue in America today than whether the country is doing enough to provide equal opportunity for people of all races and backgrounds. Charter schools are a mechanism for doing that. They’re not perfect, but that’s not the question. The question is, would those students be better off in a world without them?”
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