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Argument: Charter schools spur competition that forces all schools to improve

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John McCain said in the last US presidential debate in October 2008: "Charter schools aren’t the only answer, but they’re providing competition…choice and competition amongst schools is one of the key elements that’s already been proven in places like New Orleans and New York City and other places, where we have charter schools, where we take good teachers and we reward them and promote them."[1]


Elly Jo Rael. "A Summary of Arguments For and Against Charter Schools" - Charter schools initiate competition between schools which will improve education. If state legislation is relatively non-restrictive, permitting substantial autonomy, and does not limit the number of charter schools, then schools will have sufficient authority to create a variety of programs and methods, and a large number of charter schools will open. These schools will compete with current public schools for students, and hence funding. The competition will require all schools to attend to the needs of students and the desires of parents. The result will be improved education for all students, whether they remain in the traditional public school or attend a charter school.


"Healthy Competition: Public Charter Schools". The Broad Foundation - A list of charter school organizations and associations dedicated to the principal that the competition in charter schools is beneficial.


Kendall Owens. "Charter school expansion would bring competition for public school money". Times Herald. October 16, 2008 - The aspect of having a competing entity in Forrest City was one Woods said that he would welcome.

“I would welcome the competition as long as the competition is presented on a level playing field. Forrest City schools are not afraid of competition, and we’re already facing that issue, which is why we’re working so diligently to make improvements. I knew the challenges that we would face when I took on this position. Everyone is working to make improvements, and we will continue to do so,” said Woods.

Woods said he plans to present his tentative plans for continued educational improvements during the annual report to the public, which is scheduled to be held before the November meeting of the Forrest City School Board. One of those options could be the creation of a conversion charter school within the district.

“We’re looking at several options. I have a team that I’m working with, and the board will discuss this issue next week during its retreat, but the full plan will be detailed during the report to the public on Nov. 10,” said Woods.

The idea of a conversion charter school is one that will receive support from new school board member Sharon Wilson. During an interview prior to her election to the board, Wilson said she felt the district should look at the option of creating a conversion charter school.

“When I made my comment, I was thinking more along the lines of a conversion charter school which would basically be a charter school opened by the district which would create a non-traditional environment available for students and parents. I can’t say that I would not support charter schools, and I don’t want to see another school coming into the area taking students away. I am all for competition, and I hope that at the same time they’re determining whether they will come to Forrest City, the administration and the board will be working to provide a better product than we currently have,” said Wilson.


"The Impact of Competition: Charter Schools and Public Schools in Texas". Midwest Political Science Association. April 12, 2007 - Abstract: One of the promised benefits of school choice is that choice schools will not only provide high quality educational services, but that traditional public schools will also improve, compelled to do so in order to prosper in a competitive environment. The issue that this research addresses is whether or not traditional public schools show improvement in the face of competition from choice schools. It does so using data from Texas, which has among the highest levels of penetration by charter schools. Based on the theory that competitive pressure is mediated by distance, a set of traditional public schools was selected based on their proximity to comparable open enrollment charter schools. These traditional public schools were compared to a group of their “peer group” schools, as designated by the Texas Education Agency, on four outcomes – state achievement test performance, graduation rates, dropout rates, and attendance rates. The peer group schools did not face competition from charter schools. The comparisons take the form of difference-in-means tests supplemented by multivariate analyses. These comparisons indicate that, for the most part, competition schools show no greater improvement on these outcomes than schools that did not experience competition. Where differences do appear, they are quite small.

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