Charter vs. public schools: New models or more money?

Published: Monday, April 8 2013 9:25 a.m. MDT

Bring up the topic of charter schools and you are usually asking for a fight. This is a sensitive topic, with critics on both sides of the aisle who all have the education of our children on the forefront of their minds. A pair of editorials in USA Today recently examined the often-visited debate between charter and public schools.

One editorial examines the success of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) schools and argues that based on their success, “The question isn't whether such successful models should be replicated, but how best to do it. In some forward-thinking communities, that reality is altering the stale charter debate.”

KIPP has shown some convincing results: eighth-grade graduates go to college at twice the national rate for low-income students, and after three years, scores on math tests rise as if students had four years of schooling.

But a companion editorial argues that charter schools possess no magic formula and are merely given more money. “The true secret is more money, something public schools are starving to get. In 11 districts in the 2007 school year, KIPP received, on average, as much as $5,760 more per pupil than local school districts, according to a recent study. KIPP leverages this generous supplemental private funding in a straightforward way: giving students more time in schools while placing a reasonable limit on class sizes.”

Is the answer more money or new educational models? At the end of the day, the debate should not become so polarizing that we lose focus of the real goal: How do we guarantee that every child gets the opportunity to go to a great school?

Email: mhartvigsen@desnews.com

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