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The ITT List

Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 7:11 am

Charter Schools Not Escaping Education Crisis

By Sara Peck

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By Sara Peck

Public school districts around the country have responded to funding shortfalls caused by the Great Recession by slashing their budgets—eliminating full-time teaching positions, increasing class sizes and reducing early-childhood offerings. Though parents, educators and advocates are protesting the cuts, saying that education should be protected as states scramble to make up budget gaps, the painful reductions, unfortunately, seem inevitable. Americans, it seems, hate tax increases more than they love public education.

Charter schools have also been affected, even in cities such as Chicago that have to some extent heralded them as a viable solution to educational inequality. After news broke last August that many administrators of elite magnet high schools were bribed to admit the children of prominent, well-connected Chicagoans, many critics of the Chicago Public School (CPS) system saw more reason to support charter schools as an—if not the—alternative to traditional high schools.

But that alternative will suffer just like the rest of Chicago's schools. Charter schools across the city will take an 11 to 18 percent funding slash this year, as the entire CPS system as a whole are estimated at $700 million. Illinois and other states need to prioritize education, and not regress to the poorly-funded educational system of the not-so-distant past. The choice is clear, especially in Illinois, which faces its worst budget crisis ever: Increased taxes or decreased education opportunities for the neediest students. This should be a no-brainer.

Sara Peck, a spring 2010 In These Times editorial intern, is a Northwestern University student studying journalism and political science.

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