Charter Schools

I happened to watch a documentary called “The Lottery”, which is about charter schools, and more specifically, the Harlem Success Academies. These are public schools that run like private schools. They have a high level of expectations for their “scholars”, and they have a goal of all of their students going to college when that time comes. This documentary highlights the unfortunate situation of families being forced to rely on a lottery, a draw, in order to guarantee their children a quality education. They do not say that all public schools are doing a bad job, they are talking about certain schools in the inner city of New York, that doesn’t take education as seriously as these Charter schools do.

This documentary got me thinking, why don’t we have these schools in Canada? The schools seem to be a good idea, they name their classrooms based on what University the Teacher attended, and what year the students will graduate from College, they are making college something that is more of a reality and possibility for students who may not have ever considered attending college.  Yet, despite all of their success, and their proof that their programs are working, people are being convinced that they are a negative! I did some research and found out that Alberta is the only province in Canada that has charter schools. Why is that? Why don’t we have more schools like these?

You could be thinking that it seems to good to be true, or that it makes all other schools look terrible, but the reality is, that these schools have proven time and time again that their strategy, and their results are working, and they are getting results!! I would love to see these schools appear in Saskatchewan, not because I think that all schools are failing, but I appreciate, and agree with their beliefs about education, and about children. Schools need to change, we need to raise our standards and we need to stop teaching from a deficit driven set of beliefs about children from lower socio economic status. We need to start expecting them to attend college, and stop expecting them to drop out  before they graduate.

All of my questions are not yet answered, but from what I have seen so far I really like the idea of charter schools. Maybe someday they will be a reality in Saskatchewan!

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About Aimee Cronan

I am a Pre Kindergarten to Grade Three Pre-Service Teacher at the University of Regina View all posts by Aimee Cronan

2 responses to “Charter Schools

  • Teacher Trainee

    One of the problems with charter schools and general school choice is that makes a HUGE set of assumptions about student mobility. Firstly that parents have the funds to enable students to travel (if need be) and secondly that they can navigate the education system itself.

    We should be aspiring to every kid being able to go to the local school and know that they can get a good education no matter where they happen to be living. I’ve always been a proponent of greater community ownership of schools, with parents and students having a greater ownership over governance. I was actually the student member of my high school’s governing board.

  • Aimee Cronan

    I totally agree! I was not meaning to sound as if I have given up on Public Schools, I in fact would like to work in one. I was just pointing out that Charter Schools do have a record of high achievement. I full expect that every school will get there (and hopefully soon), but the reality is that, not all schools are there right now, and it makes me sad.

    I do think that there could be some changes made so that schools are held to a higher standard. For example, one aspect that I really appreciated was the fact that Charter schools have to prove every five years that they have been doing their job, otherwise they do not get their charter renewed and they essentially have to close down. I think that if there was a regular audit of schools, and consequences when schools were not meeting education standards that we would see a huge increase in achievement in some lower schools.

    I know that there are a lot of factors that contribute to low achievement (socio economic status of families, transiency, home life, sense of self, etc) I do think that there are a few things that we could change to make a difference.

    I was just trying to see education from a different lens.

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