National Edition

Finding education for children can be a 'crapshoot'

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6 2013 7:25 p.m. MST

When the education world becomes a market, charter schools and voucher-funded private schools may end up costing you.

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With another slew of charter schools closing across the nation, some parents may be re-examining what Salon Media Group calls the "crapshoot" with children's education.

A recent article from Salon examines how many schools are "gambling" with America's future minds through voucher-funded private schools and charter schools because of the proverbial market that was created on the charter school front, when public schools from coast to coast were pressured to be more business minded.

"Politicians on the right and left have criticized pubic education for being a 'monopoly' that is not subjected to enough 'competition' in the 'market,' Salon reports. "It is primarily this business thinking that is behind the push for public education to provide more 'choice.' So now superintendents are calling themselves CEOs, and parents are being called customers."

According to Salon, for some charter school advocates, the answer to this great monopoly question is the charter school, and to put it bluntly, the closing charter school — or so it may seem.

"Little regard seems to be given to the data that charter schools have proven to be not particularly any better than traditional public schools. The most recent comparison of charter school performance to traditional public schools nationwide found that more charter schools are doing better than they were previously. But a careful analysis of the study showed only "a tiny real impact on the part of charter schools,'" Salon reported.

And voucher-funded private schools are akin to placing cash in parents' hands and sending them on an education shopping spree.

According to Salon, “More states than ever are piling onto the ‘school choice’ bandwagon. In 2013 alone, 15 states either expanded or created voucher or ‘neo-voucher’ programs — a system of generous tax credits that are vouchers by another name," wrote Simon Brown at Americans United.

One of the issues with taxpayers' dollars fueling the private school realm is that many are not held to the same testing standards measured across the nation. The tests that are administered in many private schools make it nearly impossible for academic achievement that is measurable against public schools.

"One, New City Christian School in Asheville, touted its ability to close the 'achievement gap' between white and African-American students but provided parents with no 'truly comparable' way to compare New City’s performance to local schools," Salon reported of an examination of North Carolina schools.

But this hasn't stopped schools from closing across the country all month, many because of insufficient funding.

Salon also reported that parents who have fallen victim to closing schools feel they are part of "one big experiment," or as Salon calls it, the crapshoot.

According to Salon, The Atlantic reported, “Closings are only the latest example of a pattern of ‘reform’ and churn, in which neighborhoods without the resources or political clout to defend themselves are reorganized and experimented on."

Email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: emmiliewhitlock

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