To hear the full SBG Cast, click here:

As shown by so many national and international statistics, American schools are not living up to their requirements in many cases. At stake here is the future of our nation and new, creative ideas need to be considered. Are Charter Schools the way to go?

Hi, I’m Steve Beaman and welcome to the Intellectual Path. We all hear the statistics, American student’s rate low in their academic performance compared to other countries. The causes behind this are plentiful and there’s certainly enough blame to go around. Parents too busy to be engaged in their children’s lives, schools overwhelmed with the mass of children, many of whom aren’t performing up to their grade level, administrators who deal with collective bargaining agreements they can’t afford, and governments all too often pandering to unions and special interests rather than the interest of the children.

Are Charter Schools one of the solutions? From the information I’ve read, I think so. Charter Schools aren’t familiar to most people and so this SBG Cast is designed to give you a primary understanding of these alternatives and help begin a civil dialogue that can move forward the issue facing our nation.

The basic concept of a charter school is that it’s a privately run, publically funded school. Charter Schools exist all over the country but some states, like Louisiana following Katrina, have broadly embraced this notion. The advantages of the Charter schools are numerous. They are excluded from many of the bureaucracies facing the traditional public school sector. For example, they are exempt from the collective bargaining of teachers unions so they have much greater flexibility in hiring and firing decisions. Further, they tend to have much smaller school sizes, and classroom sizes which generally correlate to better learning environments. And, as is the case with most private enterprises, they tend to be run more efficiently than their public counterparts. But, there is some dispute about results. The American Federation of Teachers for example published a report that concluded students did not improve test scores through the Charter Schools, but research by Caroline Hoaxby of the Hoover Institute concluded the opposite. I think here, common sense goes a long way. There is no PERFECT solution, and not all Charter Schools will be run better than their public counterparts. We can be sure of that.

But the Charter School system has received some very special attention by groups like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundations. These powerhouse foundations funded by the wealthiest Americans, have found that Charter Schools do represent a concept that is part of the solution to educating the nation’s children.

I find it interesting by the way that applying for a “charter” isn’t all that restrictive. Each state has its’ own requirements, but generally, a Charter can be applied for by anyone, or any enterprise. The operators must show the ability to meet the educational standards set forth in the charter, and meet the fiduciary standards over the money, but they can, and are being set up all over the country.

It’s hard not to salute the charter school movement as a truly out of the box idea that can help educate our kids. There are other ideas like Magnet Schools which will be evaluated in future SBG Casts.

I’m Steve Beaman and thanks for listening to this SBG Cast on the Intellectual Path!

Author's Bio: 

Steve devoted 25 years of professional life to a successful career on Wall Street, culminating in the sale of his company, Chicago Investment Analytics to Charles Schwab & Company in 2000. He has participated in all areas of economics and finance, has been a key note speaker at countless investment conferences, and most recently, wrote the powerful book "Happiness & Prosperity in the 21st Century: The Five Paths To a Transformed Life". He is the author of "The Steve Beaman Group Guide to Entrepreneurs" as well as over 100 SBG Casts (Five Minute topical broadcasts with empowering ideas for the Five Paths).