What is a Charter School?
A charter school is a public school in the sense that they are funded with public monies just like other public schools. However, they are not held to some of the same laws, regulations, and guidelines as regular public schools. In exchange, they produce certain results. Charter schools are a different option for public school students. They are not allowed to charge tuition, but they often have controlled enrollments and have waiting lists for students wanting to attend.
Charter schools are often started by administrators, teachers, parents, etc. who feel constrained by conventional public schools. Some charter schools are also established by non-profit groups, universities, or private industries. Some charter schools focus on certain areas such as science or math and others attempt to create more difficult and a more efficient educational curriculum.
What are some benefits with charter schools?
Creators of charter schools believe that they increase learning opportunities and provide greater access for a quality education. Many people also enjoy the choice they create within the public school system for both parents and students. Proponents say they provide a system of accountability for results within public education.
One of the biggest benefits is that teachers are often encouraged to think outside the box and are encouraged to be innovative and proactive within their classrooms. This is in contrast to the belief that many public school teachers are to traditional and rigid. Charter schools advocates have stated that community and parental involvement are much higher than those in traditional public schools. With all of that said, charter schools are primarily chosen because of their high academic standards, small class sizes, ground-breaking approaches, and matching educational philosophies.
What are some concerns with charter schools?
The biggest concern with charter schools is that they are often difficult to hold accountable. This is actually in contrast to one of their supposed concepts. In theory charter schools can be closed for failing to meet the terms established in their charter, but in reality this often proves difficult to enforce. In addition, charter schools often face financial hardships causing many schools to close across the nation.
The lottery system that many charter schools have used has come under scrutiny. Opponents say that the lottery system is not fair for many students wishing to gain access. Teachers at charter schools often “burn out” due to the longer hours and higher levels of stress due to the higher standards they are held too. Other concerns include high staff turnover, decreased test scores, and the cutting of special needs programs.