Charter school proponents believe charters will not only better educate students, but that their existence will create a free market educational system where schools will compete to educate our children. They theorize that charter schools that are able to increase test scores and college acceptance, while also decreasing the dropout rate and the operational costs of running a school, will lift the tide and cause all boats–or in this case schools–to rise to meet these exceptional expectations.
In many cases, the idea is more than theory. Some charter schools are getting outstanding results with low socio-economic students in urban and rural communities. A New York City study finds that 51% of New York City charter schools show significantly larger growth in math, and 29% saw larger growth in reading than district schools. In California, about 90% of graduates from Green Dot schools, which are primarily charter, fulfill California’s curriculum compared to less than 30% of graduates at Los Angeles Unified School District. Finally, In New Orleans, where nearly 60% of public school students now attend charter schools, the percentage of schools performing below the failing mark fell from 64% in 2005 to 36% in 2009.
Charter schools are also politically popular as an issue that both Republicans and Democrats are rallying around. President Obama has been one of their most staunch advocates. He plans to double funding for the Federal Charter School Program to support the creation of more successful charter schools.
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