The New York review of Books has an article about charter schools and the documentary Waiting for Supermen.
It is a long article and I have not finished reading it, but what I have read is interesting and might relate to Korea’s hagwon culture.
Briefly, the movie sings the praises of charter or private schools and blames public schools for America’s educational problems. On the surface, this seems reasonable. However, as the article points out, the charter schools are awash in money – at least compared to the inner-city public schools the movies uses for comparison purposes. Indeed, the article claims the movie is pretty cagey about which public schools and which charter schools they use for comparison purposes. The article offers the statistic of one in five charter schools achieving better scores than public schools and nearly two in five performing worse than public schools.
The movie seems a propaganda piece but the article, apparently without bias – offers a more interesting picture.
Here in Korea, my understanding is that public high schools don’t even try to cover all the material needed for the University Entrance Exam but expect that students will either go to hagwons or watch EBS (the government-run Educational TV station) to fill in the gaps.
It is probably a good sign that the US is taking a greater interest in education for its children. I fear that the Korean model is an example of taking that interest too far and I wonder what the middle ground is.
I do intend to read the full article – and I recommend it to others – but need to prepare to drive to the in-laws tonight. More later…