MIA=MIDTERM ISSUES ANALYSIS
Do failing schools benefit from school consolidation?
“YES” SIDE (Terrell) With the continuing economic decline and the increasing pressures for schools to show improvement, many districts are seriously considering the controversial issue of school consolidation. One way many districts are trying to avoid huge consolidations is by creating charter schools. Charter schools are viewed as great solutions because they allow districts to continue to receive public funding while not having to uphold the same rules and regulations as regular public schools. Many proponents view charter schools as a solution to the economic crisis facing public education because they recognize that it allows districts to continue to receive federal and state funding while serving fewer students. With many charter schools promising to challenge students more academically, more advanced students tend to leave public schools in favor of this promise. Charters decrease the quality of education for students who stay behind by bleeding off caring parents and motivated students (Clabaugh, 2009). As public schools lose more funding and the better performing students, the struggle to compete academically by purchasing updated computers and equipment, hiring more experienced faculty and staff, and increasing state and national test scores not only continues, but also increases. With charter schools being controlled by fewer rules and regulations than public schools, much room is left for mistakes in allocations of funding. According to a report by Clabaugh (2009), a Philadelphia charter was discovered to have spent only 38.4 percent of its budget on instruction while the remainder went for niceties such as legal fees, travel, meals, and entertainment. Taxpayers’ money is not always used effectively or appropriately. Without specific budget regulations, the directors of charter schools often find opportunities for fraud or misuse of public funds (Clabaugh, 2009). In cases like that of charter school Citizen 2000 in Phoenix, Arizona, where the director was accused of intentionally inflating attendance figures to garner more state aid and using school accounts to repay personal debts and to make such personal purchases as jewelry and swimming pool supplies, the misuse of funding can go unnoticed for years and eventually force school closures (Schnaiberg, 1997). Thousands to millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money goes down the drain. Students and parents are forced to relocate and find other charter or private schools or are forced to re-attend public schools. Students begin to suffer from discontinuity in their educational services. According to research done by Lacireno-Paquet (2006), evidence points to the fact that many charter schools are highly segregated by race and income, and almost one third of schools with admissions requirements base admissions on the student’s academic record. For example, recognizing that minority students stereotypically come from working families with lower incomes, many charter schools subtly promote segregation by not offering transportation to and from their campuses. With some minority families unable to regularly afford even the low costs of public transportation to and from school each day, unable to afford their own personal car or truck, or even unable to drive their kids to school each day due to a more demanding work schedule, minority students have no way of arriving at charter schools. Thus, significantly depressing the percentage of minority students in charter schools (Lacireno-Pacquet, 2006). The opportunities of disadvantaged students are lost. “NO” SIDE (Brianna) The education of our students is most important. How is one teacher going to focus his/her attention on 30 students (consider this a high school) per class five or six times a day, every day for a week? Let’s be honest with ourselves, he/she won’t be