The Instigator
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The Contender
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6 Points

Are charter school better than public schools?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/12/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,647 times Debate No: 16462
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




To understand how and why charter schools score better on tests than do public schools you first have to understand how charter schools work.

Charter schools come into existence when a state puts out a notice that it will be subsidizing a non-governmental type of school called a charter school; which will be owned and run by a non-governmental group of people who get together to open one. It's as simple as that, but not of course, because states don't just pay any group of people to open and run a school; there are requirements involved; and that's why states choose to allow for the possibility of charter schools in the first place, because it's easier to put stipulations on them.

Consider the city of New Orleans which chose to rebuild most of the schools that were destroyed with charter schools instead of regular public schools. This was done because though charter schools do get subsidies from the government, they also have to come up with some of the startup capital on their own. Thus, it was cheaper for the city from the get-go. Then, because they are not public schools, the city didn't and still doesn't have to deal with the hiring, firing or dealing with teachers; those people that open and own the charter schools have to deal with all that. All the city has to do is lay out the guidelines that the schools must follow in order to receive continued funding. In this situation, there is no bartering with unions for example, again because the teachers work for the charter schools, not a public school district, but also because charter schools are under no obligation to hire teachers that belong to a union or to not hire them if they do.

The idea behind a charter school is that a state can mandate what is taught without having to do the teaching itself; it can require a certain level of excellence without having to provide the expertise; and it can demand improvements in test scores without having to provide a means for doing so. All because it's the state that holds the purse strings. If a charter school fails to live up to the stipulations in it's contract, or charter as it's called, then the state can simply withhold the funds that school needs to operate.

Thus, the charter schools are free to do whatever they wish with the students so long as they pass the tests; and this includes excluding students who don't measure up; because unlike public schools, students have to be accepted to a charter school to attend, and if they fail to measure up to the schools standards, either academically or behaviorally, than they can be expelled.

And this is why most charter schools are able to do better on test scores than are public schools, because they can weed out those who don't score well enough.


In order for something to be better than something else they have to be comparable to begin with. Comparing charter schools to public schools is like comparing apples and oranges. My opponent brings up many good points in her argument. However, her last statement of "And this is why most charter schools are able to do better on test scores than are public schools, because they can weed out those who don't score well enough" contradicts her position that charter schools are better than public schools.

Many people, including my opponent, point to test scores as the primary indicator that children receive a better education at charter schools. However, the ability for charter schools to "weed out" underperforming students has a positive impact in the overall test scores. Additionally, public schools cannot weed out any child, regardless of the child performs. Also, special education student test scores are used to calculate the overall score of a school. If a public school has a higher percentage of special education students it's logical to conclude that the public schools test score results will suffer. Also, student scores for children who are E.S.L. students (English as a Second Language) are also included in the test scores.

In order for my opponents position to be true we need to show an apples to apples comparison, which cannot be done as the student makeup of the schools are vastly different. The Harlem Success Academy in New York City is one of the best known charter schools in the country and was one of the featured charter schools in the documentary "Waiting for Superman." The public school in the same district is P.S. 149. However, there is a drastic difference in the makeup of the student body.

"At the Harlem Success Academy, 2% of the students are English Language Learners (compared to 13% at P.S. 149 --more than six times as many). The school says it has16.9% special education students, (compared to 20% at P.S. 149) and of these, few if any are the most severely disabled. The charter school had three homeless students in the 2008-09 school year, less than 1 percent of its population (compared to P.S.149's 10 percent)." [1]

Based on the above statistics one can easily see what Harlem Success Academy has superior test scores when compared to P.S. 149. If Harlem Success Academy has general education students that are bringing the schools overall test scores down, they can simply dismiss those students. Where do the students wind up? Those students are sent to public school, namely P.S. 149. Now P.S. 149 has additional students that are underperforming, who do not score well on standardized test, who further bring down the test scores for the school, whereas Harlem Success Academy can continue to cycle out underperforming students.

In New York City, public schools that underperform in a given year are put on a list as underperforming and 2 consecutive years on the list can result in the closure of the school. Of course, charter schools are then opened in the public school's place as the charter school provides a "superior" education. This is a dangerous cycle that may ultimately lead to the demise of public schools while leaving children who need to most help with nowhere to go.

In order for one to truly decide whether a charter school education is "better" to a public school education it must be an apples to apples comparison. The only way to truly tell is to have a charter school such as Harlem Success Academy and a public school such as P.S. 149 to have the same make up within their respective student bodies.
I now pass this debate to my opponent.

Debate Round No. 1


swalker forfeited this round.


My opponent has not countered my argument and has forfeited this round. Kindly vote Con.
Debate Round No. 2


swalker forfeited this round.


KnowItAll forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by swalker 4 years ago
yes i think they are
Posted by darkkermit 5 years ago
Do you believe charter schools are better than public schools? Yes or No?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited, Con had a source, and Con's arguments remained unchallenged