School Choice, NYC

I am from a very small town in a very rural state. We did not have any choice in which public school we attended, and did not apply to any schools until college.  Even then, college was clearly a option not chosen by all. Coming to New York City, the concept of “school choice” had to be explained to me.  It took me a long time to even learn that charter schools are in fact public schools that are privately run. Because of how new the concept of school choice was to me, I did not feel I could have an opinion until very recently, and I have come to learn many things regarding the different perspectives on school choice.

School Choice is not a long-term solution.   Charter schools are able to be innovative in a way that regular public schools cannot be, using funds in a way that the founder sees fit to invest in different teaching techniques, different types of school operations, new technology for the school staff and students to use, and the hiring of different types of school staff. Because of this, many charter schools have been very successful in bringing up their students’ academic achievement, while others have not fared as well. The Department of Education should be using lessons learned from charter school successes and failures to implement best practices in public schools.

School choice also burdens families with making the decision of where to apply and which schools to attend. It widens the achievement gap, by rewarding those families with more time and resources because they are the families whose students are going to the best schools. A student should be guaranteed a quality education no matter what school they attend.

So many schools in New York City are failing, and it has become necessary to establish immediate alternatives so that current students are able to learn and achieve academic success at the same levels as others in their grades across the country.  I cannot discredit the work the charter schools have done.  But at the heart of the matter, all students should be receiving a quality education without having to apply to exclusive schools, where there is a chance they may not be accepted. Students that are not accepted and enrolled into the top NYC public schools should not have to suffer from a poor educational system. The NYC school choice system has become dependent on the idea that their are better options available for children, when in reality, an investment has to be made in those that are performing poorly to bring them up to par.  Charter schools and school choice should not be necessary in order to gain a good education.