Are charter schools better alternatives to public schools and at what cost?

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  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 6:06 p.m.


    I spoke truth. Why not call up and visit a charter some time and see for yourself. Our school gives weekly tours.

    Only one of those statements needs to be clarified. The rest are available on state USOE reports or have been reported in this newspaper.

    In regards to the UEA, that statement comes from a series of conversations I had with UEA leadership. The convention is the best thing they do for Charter school educators, but most everything else they offer does not translate well to a Charter model.

    For the economically diverse statement, its pretty simple. Neighborhood schools only draw kids from the school boundaries which most often are of the same economic background. I have taught politician's kids, children of best-selling authors, and kids whose dad has his name on ballparks. Our school also has a state reported 10% of ecomically disadvantaged youth. You may get that diversity of a kid in a rust bucket getting out of one car and another a BMW in High school, but that sort of thing is unheard of in elementary. We have roughly the same special education and racially diversity as the nearest schools.

  • bikelehi Lehi, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 7:55 a.m.

    Google Stanford, Charter School study or charter school 17%. You'll find the research.

  • My2Cents Kearns, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 7:36 a.m.

    As an alternative education I would say charter and private schools are the most successful in educating its students, even with its underfunding and lack of good facilities. Some of the best minds and people in history came from poor eduction systems, Lincoln or Einstein ring any bells?

    Education is not about funding or feeding students their daily bread, changing their diapers, its about children being motivated to learn. Popularity, playing games, and non worthy subjects like wasting a lot of time in the commons are not a worthwhile item to put on a resume.

    Schools tend to think that they have to make money in sports or other venues to educate the students, all that is is window dressing. They are so fixated on per pupil spending it has consumed their very essence and purpose. What good is a trillion dollars per school if they use it all to water the grass?

  • first2third Elmo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:38 p.m.

    Are charter schools a better alternative to public schools and at what costs?

    This is the title of the article. The article then gives no facts or reasons to support an answer to the question either way. Poorly titled article DNews.

  • Fred44 Grantsville, Utah
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:06 p.m.

    Mr. Jarvis,

    I would think since you request that others back their statements up with statistics, you would choose to do the same. Number 5. UEA doesn't know how to deal with charters, based on what? Number 7. What would be your basis of proof that Charters are more diverse socially and economically?

    In terms of some of your other statements I think we could best classify them as half truths. The lottery part is true but students who fail to "comply" with the rules of charter schools are invited to seek their education elsewhere, thus eliminating some students (not an option for traditional public schools). Charters may be free, but often have rules requiring extensive "volunteer hours" thus eliminating more students whose parents must work. Transportation is also not provided thus eliminating other students from applying. Although you produce no proof for Number 6, it is correct, but isn't that what the charter school movement promised, better with less? As far as Number 4, parents choose charters, that is true, but parents also choose traditional schools.

    It would be nice one time to have a discussion of the facts, and not all the hyperbole.

  • KamUte South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 8:21 p.m.

    Charter schools talk big but can't back it up. My kids attended Northstar. The faculty was ok at best. Great music teacher last year but most of the staff had their own agenda. Can't attract good talent.

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 7:34 p.m.


    Since those evaluations only are done yearly after gaining tenure, it would take two years to get that requirement completed.


    Nice invented stats. My favorite is the one linking carrot consumption to death based on setting a study date in the 1800s. Since everyone from the study is dead one must assume the carrots did them in. If you are going to throw around stats as proof, back them up.

    Correcting erroneous postings.

    1. Charters are FREE public schools
    2. Charters take the same tests and report results to the state
    3. Charters take ALL students based on lottery if demand is greater than seats available (see the movie The Lottery)
    4. Parents choose Charters.
    5. The UEA doesn't know how to deal with Charter School educators since we don't use contract negotiations, and we are insured anyhow.
    6. Charters are funded less per pupil than Districts
    7. Charters have more social economic diversity than neighborhood schools. Rich and poor are treated the same.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 6:18 p.m.

    I have yet to see where the union determines class sizes in the local school, but in charters they can determine class sizes and hold to those standards. In public schools we must educate every student that comes through those doors and we aren't allowed to kick them out. Our graduation rates are based on a transient population. With charters I can guarantee you those students aren't going to be in and out of the system like 25% of the public education system is. Those parents are actively involved in the education of their students. The typical parent teacher night at a local high school is lucky to get 15% parental involvement. I say this: Give the local schools the funding to reduce class sizes to anywhere near the national average and you will see test scores/grade point averages improve because now that teacher gets to know that student better. This is Utah, not CA or NY. The powers that be would rather use statistics from other states in decrying public education rather than give real reform a chance here.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    This was a poorly written intro to the topic. All it did was enrage the anti-union people as you can tell from the comments.

    Utah teachers don't even belong to a union.

    If people would do a little research you will find that charter schools aren't going better than the regular schools here in Utah.

    In fact the dnews had an article a while back saying that 37% of charters were performing "significantly worse" than the regular schools.

    Test scores prove it to be true.

    Don't believe the hype.

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 5:39 p.m.

    Head Tax!

  • Raven Sandy, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 5:20 p.m.

    I find quite funny that there are still those on this board, and elsewhere, that think that funding equates to achievement. What a laugh. Could those of you who feel that Utah Public Ed schools are under funded please tell us what being "fully funded" is?

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 4:47 p.m.

    The problem Independent with the money thing is with charters is that they often want to use public education resources. Let's say Johnny wants to play football but his charter doesn't have a football team. He gets to go back and play football. He gets the equipment etc. everyone on the team gets. But his $$$ left the school system so he could attend the charter. Charters have their place I do believe and we have one child in public schools and one in a charter school. Indeed, many say charters can choose their students, this is true because we won the lottery with one but not with the other. Public schools have to educate everyone and provide services to everyone. This is the reality and as a charter parent it is important to be fair.

    Anti-Government: I think you grossly exaggerate the power of the unions. I mean let's get real. Teachers are facing pay cuts, lost days of work, decreasing benefits and larger class sizes. That sounds like a powerful union to me...Sign me right up if my union can get me worse wages and benefits and lousier working conditions.

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 4:38 p.m.

    bikelehi hit it on the head. Charters can and do select students..... they just boot out the undesireables and, back they come into public K-12.

    Most charters are NOT a better choice for the above-mentioned reasons.


  • Independent Henderson, NV
    Jan. 18, 2011 4:28 p.m.

    "Charter schools might be great but where do the students go that can't make the grade and can't get in?"

    So you want to hold back the kids who can get in just to make it fair? It's not just about the smart kids. Here in Nevada, we have magnet schools that cater to the different strengths of the student body. We have schools for performing arts, math and science, and vocational, career and technical acadamies. If a student has a particular aptitude in something, he can go to a school that emphasizes it. If he can't get into the school of his choice, he can keep going to the regular old school. Most kids are good at at least something, so the more magnet schools the better. Ideally, most schools would be magnet schools, so everyone would have somewhere to go that matches their strengths. And I say if a kid's strengths match better with being in the work force than with school in general, let him go.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:22 p.m.


    Your first major difference is a crock. There is no tenure in Utah. Public school teachers can be removed at any time when proper procedures are followed.

  • bikelehi Lehi, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:10 p.m.

    Major differences of Charter vs. Public
    1. Year to year contracts for teachers. No tenure.
    2. No big administration, school is in charge of itself
    3. School population from a larger area
    4. Mostly smaller class sizes
    5. Typically don't have extra-curricular activities, depending on the school.
    6. Some specialize in a subject (science) or activity (movies, music, etc).
    7. Parental involvement

    Major Similarities...
    1. Curriculum expectations and testing
    2. Hiring certified teachers

    This is for a reference for people who don't know. Again, charter schools do not "typically" out perform public ed, in fact public ed. typically outperforms charter schools.

    You have to know what you're getting into with a charter school and if it is a good one, it may work for you and your student, but chances are it's not going to change much.

  • Veritas Aequitas Fruit Heights, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:05 p.m.

    Anti Government | 11:36 a.m. Jan. 18, 2011
    Alpine, UT
    re: CHS

    I'm certainly not saying the school boards and administration are blameless but the union rules and protections have made it far too difficult.

    What "union" are you talking about? Utah is a "right to work" state. There is no union in Utah, rather an association.

    Other states have hardcore "union" factions, but please don't place that label on the UEA.

    Please take your argument to other states.

    We can have an "association" that encourages the employment of left handed people, but it has no real power.

    If you see a teacher that is "Still teaching the same ineffective way skirting the rules to stay employed", get them "unemployed"...

    Too many parents whine, but lack the fortitude to stand up for their kids, and get the teacher fired.

    Last year, I stepped up for my daughter, and the teacher is no longer employed. I provided the "evidence" that the classroom was not a place for learning, and the district agreed...

    Stop posting on the Deseret News page, and make a real change.

  • bikelehi Lehi, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    It is true that Charter Schools are not allowed to hand pick their students from the beginning, but there are ways around it. Not saying that all charter schools or even many do this, but it has and continues to be done. Once students are enrolled, they can kick out a student for almost any reason, and then they can fill that spot with someone one the waiting list.

    Again, not that all do this, but it does happen and this is sort of a "hand picked" way to get students.

  • jotab Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    In Utah a teacher needs 2 poor evaluations to be terminated. Is that horrible, Anti? Also, name one deficit in Utah that unions have created.

    The concept of charter schools is supported by NEA and UEA, especially if they are held to the same accountability as the traditional public schools. When they are we see no statistically significant difference in achievement.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 3:02 p.m.

    Charter schools are another option. It is entirely probably that they are better for some kids than are other options.

    Private secular schools are a better option for some kids.

    Private religious schools are the best option for kids.

    Home school is the best option for some kids.

    Traditional neighborhood schools are the best option for some kids.

    Transferring to a school across town is the best option for some kids.

    The point is, kids are not all the same. It is silly to think that ANY one option would or could be best for all or even most of them.

    As for claims that charter or private schools are somehow very selective about who gets in: not only is that not generally true, but even if it is, maybe we need to look at whether we are imposing unreasonable requirements on regular schools.

    Maybe they should not be required to deal with kids who refuse to learn and even disrupt others. Everyone needs an education, but for those who flat refuse, maybe some other accommodation should be made rather than allowing a few problem children to rob their classmates of their educational opportunity.

  • TallGuy1970 Syracuse, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    @Miss Piggie,

    If you know of a charter school "hand selecting" their students, take it to the proper authority.

    The big plus in my book for charter schools is that they can set a maximum class size. They are governed directly by a governing board, usually made up of parents, and while they must cover the core subjects, they can focus on specific areas of instruction.

    Truthfully, the main reason for charter school popularity in Davis County, where I live, is that charter schools are on a traditional 9-month schedule. Every time you hear of an elementary switching to year-round, there is a rush of applicants at the near-by charter school.

  • bikelehi Lehi, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:43 p.m.

    People seriously need to do some research. Only 17% of charter schools perform better than traditional schools. Nearly 40% actually do worse! Charter schools can fill a need for some students, but they are not an answer to cure America's education.

  • Alfred SLC, Utah
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:41 p.m.

    @Go Big Blue!!!: "The answer is increased parental involvement. Read with your children, be involved with their assignments and spend more time helping your children..."

    You've put your finger on the real solution... parental involvement. That's what the Chinese do... and they are leaving us behind in their dust.

  • Miss Piggie SLC, Utah
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:35 p.m.


    "The law states that they (charters) cannot pick and choose their students. If there is more demand than seats, a lottery system is to be used..."

    Then why have charter schools? What do they provide that the public school does not?

    Regardless of what you say and what the law says, students are hand-picked, in large measure, for charter schools.

  • Neanderthal SLC, Utah
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:29 p.m.

    @Rebel vs UT GOP(UT's elitists) 11:29 a.m.:

    "I think private schools are a much better idea."

    If you want a private school be my guest... but use your own private money to fund it. Taxpayer money should not be used to fund private education. The state provides a free education for all. If that's not good enough and you want something better, pay for it.

  • Go Big Blue!!! Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:17 p.m.

    I choose public schools over charter schools every time. Public schools prepare individuals to live in the real world where there is diversity. Are your children going to live in a charter world?

    Charter schools are taking resources away from our elementary school by reducing student enrollment. This doesn't result in smaller classes, it results in fewer classes with less funds available throughout the school.

    The answer is increased parental involvement. Read with your children, be involved with their assignments and spend more time helping your children than time spent complaining about their teachers and the school system.

  • Mr. Bean SLC, Utah
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:11 p.m.

    Charter schools might be great but where do the students go that can't make the grade and can't get in?

    If charter schools are better, then I say close down all public schools and send the students to charter schools.

    Won't happen? Of course not. There aren't enough charter schools. So, alas, the dummies have to remain in less desirable public schools with bad teachers and equally bad curricula.

    Charter schools should all be shut down because they provide an unequal opportunity for some students. Public money should never be used to advantage one person over another.

  • TallGuy1970 Syracuse, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:11 p.m.

    A few facts for ill-informed posters to this board.

    In Utah, charter schools are public schools. The law states that they cannot pick and choose their students. If there is more demand than seats, a lottery system is to be used to pick the students who will attend.

    Charter schools get more than just the state WPU. The do get local tax dollars or the equivalent thereof. They are called local replacement dollars, and by law public school districts pay 25% of those local replacement dollars for student who leave their districts and go to charter schools.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 18, 2011 12:18 p.m.

    In California school educators feel that they know what's best for children and that the parents should leave all the important decision making to them.

    They've banned dodge ball because it is too dangerous and because you can't have a winner if you don't have a loser.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    Jan. 18, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    I think charter schools are great. Public school teachers like to complain about them because they take resources away from public schools. Well excuse me: They also take kids away from public schools, so wouldn't you need less resources? What they are really complaining about is that all of the good smart kids leave, and the trouble makers stay behind. I think we could solve this by requiring students in public schools to adhere to a more strict code of conduct and higher academic standards, and if they can't, they should be kicked out of school. Perhaps we could start charter schools for those students who can't meet reasonable academic and behavior standards, and we pay teachers more to work there. And if they can't make it in these schools, we kick them out in the 8th grade, and their parents will be responsible for educating them, or they can start working in a vocation. If we have enough charter schools that teach kids something they actually want to learn, very little of the students would reach the point of having to be kicked out, and the ones that do were headed that way anyway.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:52 a.m.

    Vouchers will solve the education problems we face from bloated administrative corps to lazy teachers etc. The private schools do a better job of teaching at a far lower cost per student. It is a simple solution that is being stopped by Democrats and their cronies in the unions.

  • loidinho Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:51 a.m.

    I think that parents have the right to choose what kind of education that their child receives. To that end, I can't argue that the charter school and the private school model is a good alternative to public education. However, one of the reasons for the teacher's union that people are quick to judge as corrupted is to create a checks and balances for the teachers. At this point there's no control over who a charter school feels is qualified to teach children. Of course it advantageous to hire a certified teacher, but I've known of a few cases where people have been hired as teachers w/o prior experience or a related educational background. This is extremely problematic.

    I think that children have the right to as good of an education that is possible and that begins with the proper support group, i.e. concerned parents and qualified teachers.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:46 a.m.

    How can we compare charter schools to public schools, especially in Utah? Our schools have never been funded in the same way that other states have funded their schools and yet people want to compare "results" here with results from states with lower class sizes. We get great "bang for the buck" here from our schools. If you don't like the direction that your school district is going run for the school board of that particular district. Make your voices heard. But until then don't compare apples with oranges.

  • Anti Government Alpine, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    re: CHS

    Exactly...because the rules "they agreed to" are far too difficult and cumbersome to effectively remove a teacher...and it was designed to be exactly that way.

    I'm certainly not saying the school boards and administration are blameless but the union rules and protections have made it far too difficult.

    Everyone here already has several teachers in mind at schools their kids are at that should have been gone long ago--where are they? Still teaching the same ineffective way skirting the rules to stay employed.

    Kids suffer and the teachers stay negatively impacting hundreds of kids year after year.

    I also might add it drags down the good teachers as well and makes them look bad but for whatever reason they let the union keep making their decisions for them that allows the deadbeats teaching. The unions make it difficult to change anything once you are in--once again designed that way for a purpose.

    Nobody wins but the union bosses and the freeloading/coasting teachers.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    To everyone on the message board: you don't have to hate charter schools to support public schools, but you also don't have to hate public schools to like charter schools. I live in Ohio, and the charter system actually works quite well with the public schools. One thing our last governor did, however, was simply require all charter schools to submit to the same quality-control testing that public schools undergo. The result: about ten percent failed and were put on one-year probation. If they got their numbers up, they were fine, if not, their charters were revoked.

    In general, the biggest problem is that charter schools seem to have little accountability--performance wise and financially. Once they were put on equal footing with public schools, the districts stopped fighting them.

    Seems like an obvious why do so many charter schools fight it?

  • Rebel vs UT GOP(UT's elitists) Vernal, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    Granny, Charter schools typically do better for several reasons. First, they can deny student entry. Second, parents that want their kids in charter schools are typically involved parents. Third, students get to focus on a particular area of study. Students are not put in classes that are irrelevant to them.
    For what it is worth, I think charter schools are a bad idea. I think private schools are a much better idea. That way public money is out of the system. The funny thing about the voucher thing a few years back is that most private institutions did not want to have anything to do with it. Once the money is in, the government is in.

  • jp3 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:23 a.m.

    If public schools could "choose and select" which students they accept, like charter schools, they would have a phenomenal success rate too.

    The beautiful thing about public schools is that they take anyone and everyone, regardless of income or ability.

    To that end, how many charter schools have a special education department? Close to zero. Public schools do an incredible job catering to so many type of children.

    The argument between public and charter is apples and oranges.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:04 a.m.

    In general, Utah schools are great. This might make a difference in areas where there's a lot of unqualified teachers or violence in schools, but generally speaking, Utah Public schools are very well run. If you take all the kids with parents who spend their resources on their children's education and place them into a different system, of course, they're going to appear to be better, but if the same parents were to contribute to the public system just as rabidly, I wouldn't be surprised if it made very little difference in the longterm.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:03 a.m.

    @Anti Government

    How many teachers do unions employ? If school districts are too lazy to follow the rules they agreed to in collective bargaining to rid themselves of bad employees, why is that the fault of the union?

  • Granny St. George, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:50 a.m.

    If charter schools are THAT good, and they appear in many cases to be so, why can't all public schools be fitted with the charter model? This is a sincere question. Help, someone....

  • XelaDave Salem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:48 a.m.

    Almost 10 years ago RAND issued a report saying the emprirical evidence concerning school choice was scant at best and lacked much sophistication- here we are 10 years later and not much has changed- lots of ideological positions and plenty of the N=1 stories that populate articles like this but little empirical evidence- in absence of evidence we will continue to play this game- choice is a great thing and when it comes to education we have always enjoyed that with local control- given what we spend on it though and our supposed concern over its role in economic development we can do better in determining useful models- my opinion- to many Ed.D's doing the research and they simply lack the rigor to do good research and so we are stuck with uninformed ideology- that always works so well historically.

  • utahsshellgame South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:42 a.m.

    Although the powerful UEA and NEA unions would like Charter schools to go away, they are a wonderful alternative to the mismanagement and shell game from the public school system. Charter Schools manage on the WPU without the additional local taxes in their pots.
    It is difficult to know what the facts are in another State, where Charter Schools received an increase and Public schools received a decrease. This appears to be propaganda, because it was mentioned, but no details. Perhaps the Charter Schools in that State have been underfunded in the past, as is the case in Utah.
    Keep Charter Schools...don't pass additional rules that will force them to be carbon copies of the traditional public schools.
    Education is a socialist program, but allow for some choice in Education!

  • Anti Government Alpine, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:39 a.m.

    Seriously how ridiculous.

    We allow unions to high-jack our public schools preventing bad teachers from being fired. Nobody wants to vote for increased education funding because most of that is just code for increased salary and benefits for protected teachers some of which are poor performering but nonetheless "untouchables" thanks to unions.

    The teachers union knows all this of course but the protection they get is more important than the education of kids.

    They, just like every other union, will ride the gravy train as long as it lasts.

    It is no coincidence that you are seeing all kinds of news articles over the last few weeks about States trying to deal with the massive deficit-producing unions.

    Unions had their place back in the day. Now it is nothing but riding the gravy train and bleeding every penny they can get until it collapses on itself. They don't seem to care as long as "they get theirs".

    Unfortunately our public schools are the latest victim.

    Lots of people now essentially have had to create Charter Schools to go around the union-dominated disaster called public schools.

    Its not right but its true.