Our public school system is a joke. As an adult I have no problem saying that we expect too little from our students. Our biggest tragedy is instead of fostering the intelligence of the gifted, we cater to the lowest common denominator. It is a poor strategy because those who struggle in school are the least likely to benefit from their education, no matter how much help is provided.
Charter schools provide those in poor districts another option and in NYC many of them are great schools. Those who cite statistics saying charter schools are worse don't know what they are reading. Also, to say that charter schools do not properly screen teachers..... I would say our public schools are at least of guilty of the same crime. In all my years I'd say 1/2 my teachers were terrible and I was at a "good" school.
Many charter schools are located in poor areas where education options are awful. They frequently outperform their neighboring public school. Those same charter schools may still be worse than the AVERAGE public school, but only because they are taking children who were previously in the worst public schools! We have to compare apples to apples.
Competition in any industry is a good thing, and like it or not, education is becoming an industry. If public schools know they may lose their funding to the local charter school, it may well push them to do better and work harder. In that case, the students at both schools win.
I will say in the broad sense that I think charter schools are beneficial to public education. Though I would not consider them to be a "silver bullet." There are many benefits to charter schools. They can specialize in certain areas. They can give students more attention to their specific educational needs. But at the same time, there are some shortfalls and it is possible that some reforms to give public schools the level of flexibility charter schools have can help them thrive as well.
The American educational system was arguably growing stagnant. Part of the problem is funding and also the breakdown of solid family structure and strong pro-education values. That said, charter schools are places where innovation can potentially thrive. I look at them as laboratories to see what public schools might be able to do better, but they are not a replacement, as they can be just as bad as bad public schools are.
Charter schools are a nightmare of unregulated organizations that foster personal or religious agendas instead of providing essential education for the children in their charge. There's no guarantee that the teachers in such schools have any business shaping young minds. I would rather have my children in the most dysfunctional public school than put them in the hands of charter school nut jobs.
Common sense would cause us to state that Charter Schools do in fact benefit public education, as they are not as subject to regulation as public schools, thus allowing for increased innovation. However, studies say otherwise, often times indicating that Charter Schools either provide no statistically significant benefit to their students in comparison to public schools or in fact cause their students to perform at a lower level than other students.