Charter schools provide inner-city kids in Harlem, New York the opportunity to escape the cycle of generational poverty by giving students a better education. The main charter school in Harlem that does this is Harlem Children’s Zone, an organization that has been helping students since the 1970s.
The president of Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoffrey Canada, said the program is “about saving young lives. For parents in devastated neighborhoods such as Harlem, the decision to send their child to the local failure factory or a successful charter school is no choice.”
President Obama recently praised Harlem Children’s Zone, and declared that he wanted to create many more charter schools for kids across the nation through the Promise Neighborhoods program. The main goal of this program would be to help students who come from neighborhoods with high poverty levels and low academic achievement levels.
This sounds like a pretty good idea right? Some educators and education scholars disagree.
Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation said that 37 percent of charter schools under-perform when compared to similar public schools. Kahlenberg claims this trend is “surely linked to longstanding research finding that racially and economically separate schools are rarely equal.”
Jeffrey Henig, a political science and education professor at Columbia University, also has concerns about charter schools. Henig is concerned that charter schools will take funds away from public schools and will create “friction between public officials and new education ‘outsiders’.”
However, I have to agree with the founder of Match Charter Public School in Boston, Michael Goldstein. Goldstein argues that charter schools, when managed properly, do serve those students who need them the most. Yes, charter schools do force public schools to share funding; however, with the increases in government funding for education, this should not be a huge problem. The Harlem charter schools “have win-win potential for all kids,” Goldstein said.