Summary: The San Jose Schools have struggled for years to find ways to address educational issues in the city. While there is a lot of room for criticism in any urban school district, you can't say that the San Jose Unified School District hasn't tried a lot of different angles for success. The diversity in the San Jose Schools, with a significant percentage of Spanish and Vietnamese speaking families, can be part of the problem when communicating with parents and building successful...
The San Jose Schools have struggled for years to find ways to address educational issues in the city. While there is a lot of room for criticism in any urban school district, you can't say that the San Jose Unified School District hasn't tried a lot of different angles for success. The diversity in the San Jose Schools, with a significant percentage of Spanish and Vietnamese speaking families, can be part of the problem when communicating with parents and building successful schools. That's why the charter schools within the San Jose Schools are such a bone of contention.
Charter schools are usually public schools which are independently run by a local or independent organization. Charter schools in the San Jose Schools often are freed from some of the constrictions that the regular public schools face. Is this good or bad? Well, there are a lot of opinions. For those who think that the San Jose Schools public education system needs to be taken over privately, and run like a business, charter schools make a lot of sense. For those in the San Jose Schools we are trying to make the current system better, charter schools seem like a drain on funding that get to operate outside of the rule book. What do the results say?
Results of Charters in the San Jose Schools
A recent study of California charter schools had some interesting results that may impact the San Jose Schools. An independent educational research group found that charters are better for middle school students, worse for elementary school students, and there was no consistent pattern for high school students.
What does this mean for students, parents and teachers in the San Jose Schools? A lot more indecision and confusion. Look at the Leadership Charter Schools. There's one in East San Jose, and a few more in outlying areas. Many parents are passionate about sending their children here, but the charter has continually butted heads with the local public schools. That's partially because schools lose money when students leave for another school. So the charters can cost the public schools money.
But here's what the San Jose Schools should be focusing on. There's a reason why charter middle schools seem to perform better than other middle schools. Let's not wait another 3 years for an independent research team to find out what's going on. The principals and teachers of San Jose Schools should be meeting and brainstorming to find out what the differences are. Charter and public schools on the same team. I suspect the need for preadolescents to have be in smaller and more intimate settings is going to show up as a factor. But why then, would charter elementary schools be in worse shape?
Maybe elementary schools are smaller to begin with so size is less of a factor? Maybe the elementary schools tend to be newer and by the time the kids filter up to middle the kinks are worked out? Lots of questions that need to be answered. At the moment, the San Jose Schools use the charter schools as an alternative, largely for low-income families. And with the state of education, alternatives aren't something we should give up.