I was in class recently and the discussion had to do with the innovative concept of Social Justice in Education. A great topic! For some reason though, the lecture evolved into that of school choice and seemed to center on public school bashing.
One of the points that a colleague brought up has stuck with me since then. That question was, and I paraphrase here, why should alternative schools be measured by the same standards as public schools?
Simply put, why not?
Let’s look at some statistics- On the Ohio State 2012-2013 school report cards, the grades for charter schools were as follow:
- A’s- 2%- compared to 4% of traditional districts
- B’s- 10%- compared to a whopping 72%
- C’s- 24%- compared to 21%
- D’s- 58%- compared to 3% of districts
- F’s- 6%- compared to 0%
- A’s- 33%- compared to 46% of traditional districts
- B’s- 10%- compared to 8%
- C’s- 22%- compared to 14%
- D’s- 14%- compared to 9%
- F’s- 21%- compared to 23%
Meanwhile according to the same article, the six state virtual charter schools scored as followed (Performance Index grade; Value Added Grade)
- Alternative Education Academy- D; F
- Buckeye On-line School for Success- C; F
- Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow- D; F
- Ohio Connection Academy- C; F
- Ohio Virtual Academy- C; F
- Virtual Community School of Ohio- D; F
Of course the proponents of charter and virtual schools will state that it is not fair to hold them to the same standards as public schools. These are the same individuals who point to the public schools’ grades and say they justify the creation of more charter and virtual schools. That public schools are failing. Double standards? I think so. It’s kind of like a child who decides if he can’t get his way, he is taking the ball and going home. In this case, we hear, “Public schools are failing the students.” When the same measures are applied to the others, “It’s not fair!” If these are not the measurement of all schools and students, then what is?
So once again, why should the same measure be applied to all educational settings? If I am going to constantly hear that public schools are failing the students and charter and online schools are the solution, then prove it. If the success of students is to be measured, the measure must be equal and the same. The old adage that you cannot compare apples to oranges rings true in this case.
Right now, public schools, while not perfect and definitely in need of some change, are still out performing the charter and virtual schools. Until the day that the scores can be reversed and charter and virtual schools can demonstrate student achievement, I will be a supporter of public schools.
Let’s hear it: Is it fair to measure all schools the same way? Or should there be different expectations and ways to prove success of students dependent on where/how they learn?