Public Schools vs. Charter Schools: A Comparative Analysis of Success in Chicago Using the Functional Theory

De’Rell Bonner


The debate regarding the effective pedagogical practices for improving test scores and closing the educational gap is long-standing in Chicago. In the last ten years, Chicago has established over 100 charter schools or “turn-around” schools in the city, as school officials work to reform some of the district’s most troubled elementary and high schools. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether or not charter schools are the solution to the educational challenges in Chicago. Opponents are critical of the establishment of charter schools, saying that they are a mere quick fix and do not tackle the root of educational inequities in the city and that more efforts should be focused on improving high schools that already exist in Chicago (Deneen and Catanese, 2011). Proponents contend that charter schools offer unique programs of study and services, thereby providing new educational options to underserved communities (Klonsky & Klonsky, 2008). The Functional Theory focuses primarily on ways that education should serve the diverse needs of society. Thus, this paper hypothesizes that charter schools have proven to be advantageous in some of the Chicago’s most challenged communities. Chicago charter and public schools use a variety of pedagogical techniques to convey knowledge to students. This comparative study utilizes quantitative data obtained from books, published reports and scholarly journals collected by using the document analysis technique, as well as data collected through three expert interviews to illustrate both sides of the debate.


The Functional Theory; Charter Schools

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