In the US, schools are established and funded by various institutions such as the government, private investors, communities and organizations such as universities and hospitals. For this reason, it is usually normal to find that different schools have different forms of administration despite the fact that they all serve the same purpose of providing education to the children within the communities where they are found. It is also common to find that the systems set up in different schools use different approaches to the realization of goals and all this may depend on the principles on which the school is founded and the nature of school in regards to the sponsors. The government sponsors different types of schools and from the different approaches from which it sponsors the schools, there are different approaches to their management and the expectations from each of them. In this paper, I will compare the union and the charter schools in the US.
Charter schools as well as union schools in the US are funded by the government but vary in that while charter schools may be allowed to receive financial grants from the private sector and other donors, the union schools are not allowed to do so. The main reason for this is that charter schools are usually established by individuals, groups or organizations with the aid of the government while union schools are fully owned by the federal government or the state government (Sansom 109). Charter schools are established in areas where the provision of education in union schools may not be sufficient or where parents may feel that their children are not receiving enough or quality education in the union or other state owned schools. Parents may also be unable to put their children into private schools due to the high cost and thus resolve to form a charter school (Neal 143).
Charter schools are allowed by the state to be flexible in the manner in which they operate but on condition that they are able to achieve the set standards of other schools such as the union schools and that they do not lock out any children without a valid ground of doing so. It is therefore worth noting that some charter schools may be established to cater for students with special needs and the government may require them to enroll any child from the community around regardless of whether they may be in the class of those requiring special attention or not. To their advantage, charter schools are usually governed by principles that are set by the founders of the school so as to effectively keep track of the primary reason for which the school was established (Sugarman and Kemerer 251).
Union schools on the other hand receive their full support in terms of funding from the government. This for them translates to being fully under the administration of the laws set by the education board in that particular state or county or the national education board where the board may set guidelines to be followed nationwide (Sugarman, 20). The union schools are required to be fully accountable to the government through the district education officers who are mandated with the role of keeping track of all schools in terms of performance, discipline and the appropriation of funds allocated to the school by the state. This is due to the fact that these schools only receive funds from the government and are expected to use the funds to the benefit of all children (Sansom 115).
Charter schools as well as union schools are required to take similar national examinations at the end of each year for students who are to proceed to the next major level of education. For example, primary schools are required to take mandatory examinations for students who are to join high school while those in high school must take examinations in order to join colleges or universities. This ensures that these students are treated fairly and they are on an equal level regardless of the school in which one is studying (Sugarman and Kemerer 239). However, the government is usually strict on schools that do not perform to the expectations of the main sponsors. For example, the charter schools may be forced to close down if at all they do not meet certain standards and this is usually done in order to enhance hard work (Neal 135).
While union schools may just be set up by the government in area that are considered in need of the school, charter schools are required to undergo certain qualifications for them to get the license to operate. The sponsors must prove their ability to run the school adequately even without the assistance from the government in case the government may withdraw its funding although this rarely happens. The sponsors must also prove that they have adequate and highly skilled labor to run the school. This means that the school must have enough teachers to cater for the entire school as well as any other necessary support staff (Sugarman and Kemerer 276).
One of the reasons for this as suggested in the study is that education officers usually have the fear of losing students from union schools to the charter schools. This would mean that education officers in the area are not doing enough to ensure that high education standards are achieved and maintained and hence the desire by parents to move their children to charter schools (Sansom 108). Another assumption of the study is that education officials have their eyes fixed on the control of education funds and hence losing students to charter schools would translate to reduced funds for the union schools and this would make it impossible for them to embezzle as much as they would like from the funds (Neal 148).
In conclusion, Charter schools may not be really different from union schools since they offer education to the communities around them on almost similar platforms. The only difference however is that while charter schools are largely accountable to their sponsors, union schools are accountable to the government since the government is fully responsible for their funding while charter schools are funded by sponsors with a little aid from the government. This gives charter schools some level of flexibility since they work to achieve goals set by their sponsors while union schools must meet the goals set by the national or state education department.
Sugarman, D. S., Kemerer, F. R. School Choice and Social Controversy: Politics, Policy and Law. 1999. Print.
Sansom, P. California School Law. 2009. Print.
Neal, R. G. School Choice After the Collapse of Public Schools. 2006. Print.
Sugarman, Stephen D. School Choice and Social Controversy: Politics, Policy and Law. Washington, D.C: Brookings Inst. Press, 1999. Print.