The thing that surprised me the most as I learned about public charter schools during my internship with the National Alliance is that they do not have universal support.
Before my internship I didn’t know much about public charter schools. I had some information, but not enough to develop a perspective or opinion of them. Reflecting on all I’ve learned and the insight I’ve gained, I have found that I am in alliance with the charter school movement.
I grew up in the private school system, so prior to my time with the National Alliance charter schools were foreign to me. After two months of serving on the communications team and working closely with the people behind the advocacy, I’ve developed an understanding of charter schools’ purpose. Charter schools allow students and families a choice in their education—an option not always offered to underserved communities regarding public education.
Charter schools offer an alternative option to a public education, yet a qualitative one. The system incorporates both parents and students in the decision making for their desired school of choice. That inclusion of family signifies that charter schools care about the families and students they serve and offer inclusion beyond the expectations of what a district education often has capacity to do. It offers opportunity for students who are underserved or underrepresented to receive a quality public education—still free of tuition. Those factors place charter schools in a league of their own.
It’s surprising to me that with the many positive opportunities and factors pertaining to charter schools, this system doesn’t have more support. In some ways, it lacks support from the leaders who advocate for the very students that charter schools serve the best. It baffles me that high-profile individuals like Bernie Sanders are against charter schools.
Charter schools allow all students to have an equal opportunity for a quality education, which have been historically limited by district and income. Unfortunately, the charter school movement is still fighting for equity within policy that district public schools automatically attain. I think that fight is absurd.
Whether Republican or Democrat, every American should stand for and with charter schools because they offer another option for quality education—something all students deserve. To be an American is to have a choice, an opportunity, an advancement towards a better life through education—and that’s what charter schools provide for their students.
During my time at the National Alliance, I developed an understanding of charter schools and the many ways they serve students. If more people gained an understanding about charter schools and who they serve, I believe there would be an increase in equity for all types of public schools and the students who attend them. Political leaders especially need to educate themselves on all systems of education, before potentially hindering the opportunity to educate someone else, which is what opposition to charter school does.
That is why I’m more than grateful for the establishment and mission of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
I believe the most important resource a person can be offered is an education. Through my internship, I now know that the charter school movement is working to help ALL students have access to this resource and I will be a lifelong advocate for charter schools because of it.
Sarah Pierre interned with the National Alliance in the communications department this summer through the UNCF fellowship program. She is a rising senior at Alcorn State University in Mississippi pursuing a career in law with a focus on criminal justice.
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