Segments in this Video

Debate "Housekeeping" (05:40)


Most believe that education is an opportunity maker. Moderator John frames the debate on charter schools, instructs the audience to vote, and introduces panel members.

For the Motion: Gary Miron (06:40)

College of Education at Western Michigan University Professor Miron cites the goals and structures of charter schools stated in legislation and studies examining the schools' performance. The schools are not fulfilling the publicly-established goals.

Against the Motion: Gerard Robinson (06:43)

American Enterprise Institute Fellow and former Florida Commissioner of Education Robinson worked with a non-profit group in New York to create a charter school. Teachers created and pushed charter schools; it became a bipartisan parent-led movement. The charter school movement will keep a means of education moving forward.

For the Motion: Julian Vasquez Heilig (06:30)

California State University Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Heilig supports the concept that charter schools departed from their original intent. He discusses the successes and failures of the education system and provides information that supports that the performance of charter schools is overrated; they need reform.

Against the Motion: Jeane Allen (06:36)

Center for Education Reform Found and CEO Allen states the average cost effectiveness advantage of charter schools was as much as 19% in reading and 17% in math on the NAEP report. She cites Sisulu-Walker Charter School as an example of achievement and argues parent support of charter schools; the system is broken, not the people.

Demand for Charter Schools (06:48)

Donvan summarizes the panelists' opening statements. Heilig uses New Orleans as an example of limited choice and low education outcomes; Miron cites school attrition rates and waiting lists. Allen rebuts the claim that waiting list claims are unsubstantiated; charter schools formed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Charter School Profitability and Privatization (06:04)

Miron states that virtual schools are profitable. Robinson states that Education Management Organization manages 15% of charter schools; the private sector has been involved in public education for years. Heilig agrees there is a trend toward privatization of schools; charter schools have a negative impact on students in Michigan. Allen states that data is not the issue; she cites Detroit.

Education Inequality (02:49)

Heilig states that inequality is built into the education system and charter schools exacerbate it. Robinson believes we need to fix public school systems to address inequality and charter schools can do the same thing. Heilig agrees, but argues that charter schools must be transparent and accountable; Allen states that charter schools do not need fixing.

Choice the Key (04:37)

Allen argues that charter schools serve parent and student needs by choice. Miron cites forms of school choice; charter schools are a vehicle for privatization and have less transparency. Robinson and Heilig debate California school closures; Heilig gives examples of lack of transparency.

Transparency and Accountability (03:53)

Robinson says the charter school system is still on a learning curve. Miron supports the legislative intent of charter schools and gives examples of schools whose headquarters are out of the country; Allen says it is not true. Miron and Allen argue case studies.

Q/A: Charter School Innovations (02:27)

Experiential and project-based learning and performance-based pay are a result of charter schools. Heilig states that charters are based on competition. Robinson counters that public schools are diverse because children are not educated in the same way.

Q/A: Are Charter Schools Discriminatory? (02:20)

Robinson states that 10% of students have special needs; magnet schools do not take all students. Heilig used geospatial analysis on data in Texas and discovered special needs kids and ELL kids are less likely to be in charter schools.

Q/A: Charter School Effects on Traditional Schools (02:57)

Miron cites financial loss as one negative impact of charter schools. Allen argues that charter schools have transformed the way traditional schools do business.

Q/A: Virtual Charters and Test Scores (03:41)

Miron states that virtual performance is "outrageous;" he is concerned about the corporate model in use. Robinson counters that some students are doing well. Panelists discuss K-12 Incorporated performance. Allen cites the types of students who attend virtual schools.

Q/A: Cessation of Public Schools (03:44)

Robinson states that public education will not go away. Miron cites the failure of KIPP Schools to open a district school. Allen explains why charters will not do district schools. Heilig states that we need to focus on community-based solutions.

Q/A: Selective Entry (02:45)

Miron cites ways that charter schools use selective entry. Allen discusses the use of charter boards. Robinson discusses inter-district choice; public and charter schools use selective entries.

Q/A: Students Switching School Types (03:05)

Donvan skips two audience questions. Robinson cites a University of Arkansas study about school switching. Miron cites statistics on tracking teacher attrition.

Q/A: Charter Schools and College (02:13)

Allen cites Philadelphia graduation rates and states that one has to look at individual cities to understand the number of charter students who attend college. Heilig cites Texas charter chain graduation rates.

Concluding Statement For: Miron (02:21)

Charter schools are not living up to their established goals and they are accelerating re-segregation. Charter schools are a market-oriented reform and have a negative impact on the districts where they are located.

Concluding Statement Against: Robinson (02:15)

Parents are interested in schools that work; close charter schools that are not working well. Public choice is the American way; for profit is not "for pimping."

Concluding Statement For: Heilig (02:15)

Heilig is a former charter school educator, donor, parent, and volunteer. His perspective on charter schools changed when investigating data beyond his personal experience. Poor students have less opportunity for high quality education.

Concluding Statement Against: Allen (02:25)

Controversy in the spirit of doing what is right for children is a good thing. Allen does not recognize the charter environment the proponents discussed.

Time to Vote (05:25)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks panelists for their participation, acknowledges Dana Wolfe's contributions to producing 133 debates, and introduces a way to contribute to Intelligence Squared.

Audience Vote Results (01:32)

Pre-Debate - For: 33% - Against: 31% - Undecided: 36% Post-Debate - For: 54% - Against: 40% - Undecided: 6%

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Charter Schools Are Overrated: A Debate

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Since 1991, when Minnesota passed the first charter school law, companies and individuals have established private schools using public funds. These private charter schools caught on across the country and have become a highly sought-after alternative to traditional public education, particularly for underserved students in urban areas. From 2004 to 2014 alone, charter school enrollment increased from less than 1 million to 2.5 million students. Many charter schools boast of high test scores, strict academic expectations, and above-average graduation rates. Their growth, supporters argue, is evidence of their success. But have these schools lived up to their promise? Opponents argue that charter schools, which are subject to fewer regulations and less oversight, lack accountability, take much-needed resources from public schools, and pick and choose their student body, thereby undermining public education. Are charter schools overrated?

Length: 97 minutes

Item#: BVL133130

ISBN: 978-1-64023-687-5

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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