An Update on the Failure of Charter Schools

With the debate surrounding the state of education in the U.S. focusing on quality teachers, and with legislation “forcing” institutions to hire only highly-qualified teachers, it might have come as a surprise to find out that charter schools hire under-qualified, inexperienced teachers and fire experienced teachers – regardless of their efficiency level – in order to save money. I talk about this in my previous post “The Failure of Charter Schools” [1]. I have since learned of an interesting practice that charter schools, private schools, and even some ISDs, are using in order to save money – hiring teachers to cover two roles.

This is not something unusual in some instances – science teachers are often hired to teach 7th (biology) and 8th (chemistry) grade science, language arts are hired to teach regular and AP courses, and English professors (with the appropriate certification) sometimes double up as ESL instructors. This practice I have no problem with, as the teacher in charge of the course knows the content and how to present it. Browsing this year’s teaching openings, however, will yield a troubling number of openings for sports coaches who are willing to teach core topics such as math, science, and language arts.

Let me give you a minute to digest that.

Schools are not looking for subject specialists who can coach a team (a somewhat acceptable situation under some circumstances) [2], they are looking for a coach, whose main area is sports, broadly speaking, and a specific sport in a more focused way, and asking them to teach content they might have forgotten.

While I concede that to some schools the sports programs are important, I don’t think they should be held in higher esteem than core programs. As long as we see school as a training ground where football players and cheerleaders are royalty and discount the value of true education – as these charter schools are doing – we will be stuck in a mediocre position when compared to the rest of the world.

Perhaps that’s something you should be concerned about.

And if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care, then just read my next post where I will write about Gamestop.





[2] Any situation where the sports teams are not directly related to the physical education class or to any league, where they are an effort of the school to get students to develop school spirit through after-school activities – in those cases a coach is not needed. If teams are a part of the physical education program and play in a larger league, then coaches are necessary.


About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on July 1, 2011, in Education Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The pros of stories for children really are remarkable. It would really decrease the pressure of teachers and parents in the best way to convey a message to an innocent child. One advantages of stories is it simply teaches a child how to relate to other people. It also teaches cause and effect concepts. Another plus of reading children stories is that you simply can teach a youngster about problem-solving without him going up to your level. He is able to see and understand how things work in the language of a little child. Above all, it also helps children to understand themselves to a higher extent. Creative concepts about self-discipline and character progress are being taught effectively. These thoughts are easily grasp by us adults but a lot challenging to teach to young child. Children need to see some concrete examples in mastering basic concepts. Therefore, storytelling is considered the most effective yet inexpensive way of teaching your students and children the basic principles in life which they badly needed in the long run.

    • I think this comment would have been better in the bit I wrote a while ago about teaching approaches. Still, you do raise an interesting point, and in some situations I would agree. Our brains have evolved to learn rhythms and stories, not individual factoids, so children do learn things better when presented in a story format. This is specially true of classes like history. However, in classes like science and math it is better to use an instructions to hands-on practice to explanation approach as stories about how 2 + 2 = 4 would seem to me a bit pointless. Even those verbal story problems about trains leaving from different points at different speeds are solved through the application of techniques. In the end, I think you’re spot on but only on some circumstances.

  1. Pingback: An Update on the Failure of Charter Schools | Γονείς σε Δράση

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