This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
A new school year is beginning in the United States --
and with it comes new debate about charter
. These are publicly financed but privately operated
schools. Charter schools can be found in most of the fifty states and
The Department of Education says more than one million students attend
charter schools. That compares to almost fifty million in traditional public
A charter school might be fully independent or connected to the local school
system. It might be operated by a non-profit group or a profit-making company.
In any case, charter schools do not have to follow all of the same rules as
traditional public schools. They have greater freedom to decide what to teach
and how to teach.
Class sizes may be smaller in charter schools, but the teachers often have
less power through unions than in traditional schools.
The Bush administration supports charter schools as a choice for parents
whose local schools are bad. But some education officials, parent groups and
unions argue that the money spent on charter schools could help traditional
Critics say studies so far have not shown enough gains for charter schools to
justify the possible loss of resources from traditional schools. They say a
study released last week by the Education Department only strengthened their
arguments. Supporters of charter schools, however, found much to criticize in
The study used test scores from the 2003 National Assessment of
Educational Progress. The researchers compared the scores of fourth grade
students in charter schools with those in traditional public schools.
The traditional schools had an average score five points higher in reading
and almost six points higher in mathematics than the charter schools.
But the study showed that charter schools connected with a public school
system performed about the same as traditional schools. Fully independent
charter schools had lower scores by comparison.
Supporters of charter schools say the results show nothing about student
progress over time or about individual schools. And they say charter school
students may not do well on tests because they came from terrible traditional
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy
Steinbach. You can read and listen to archives of our reports at www.unsv.com.
I'm Steve Ember.
charter school : 特许学校