NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Public vs. Charter Schools


“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” — Aristotle  

 Let’s go back in time to when we Highlanders were high school students — the days of being disappointed with the services, food, Advanced Placement exams, rainy fire drills and nightmares of finishing assignments in time. But during all those moments, we knew how important it was to be focused on our academics. Deep down, we were aware of the opportunities that came with an excellent basic education — that’s probably why we were willing to go the extra mile.  

Public schools go back to the 17th century and have earned the reputation of providing free education to all over the years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are currently 98,755 public schools in the United States, and this number grows if there are many students. In particular, the Newark School District has 66 schools that employ 5,877 people and enroll 35,329 students. Therefore, it is the largest and one of the oldest systems in New Jersey.   

Charter schools are tuition-free, just like public schools, but are run by non-profit organizations. Anyone can attend them irrespective of where they live. These schools are a bit more flexible, have high academic standards, and reputedly have better management compared to traditional public schools. Each school can decide on an individual curriculum which is not necessarily the same as other charter schools in town. So in short, charter schools are just like private schools but receive their funding from the government.   

Charter schools received attention in the 1980s as a medium to bridge the gap in education between the white and non-white populations in the United States. By the era of the Bush administration, they had become so popular that they received $37 million annually. President Obama even suggested converting underperforming public schools to charter schools.   

The number of charter schools is increasing very rapidly. They are now present in 44 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The National Center for Education Statistics provides readers with the fact that enrollment in these schools has more than doubled in nine years, from 1.6 million in the fall of 2009 to 3.3 million in the fall of 2018. In Newark, 14,000 students are enrolled in 20 public charter schools.  

However, nothing is perfect in the world; unfortunately, charter schools do have their drawbacks. For example, the independence that these schools have might be a hindrance because they can shape their school’s curriculum based on the streams students pursue. In addition, the lack of central regulation means that charter schools can vary in quality.  

With high academics comes major stress, and charter schools have earned a reputation for overloading students with assignments and tests that may cause some of them to burn out very easily. Public schools also have better teachers because they offer better pay and job security as compared to charter schools.   

After looking at the facts and performances of both types of schools, I can understand how tough it would be for parents to decide which institution they should enroll their children in.  

The dilemma is sending their child to a private school but paying the high tuition there (which may help their child to get into a good university) or public schools with no tuition, but the quality of education is not that high; and then charter schools, which is also for free but may or may not have good and accommodating teachers.   

It would be easier for everyone if there were only schools that received good funding from the government. Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone if students study and their parents need not worry about paying their tuition, or have to make a pros and cons list of the various kinds of schools we have, and then land upon a decision? That’s what I have to say, but I would love to hear your opinion about this match between public schools and charter schools.

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Paridhi Bhardwaj, Staff Writer
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