Charter schools are a major part of our modern education system. Each charter school is unique and different from others as they follow a different curriculum. They provide parents and students with a wide range of options to choose the best fit for them.
- According to the National center for education statistics, there was an overall increase of 2.7 million (from 0.4 million to 3.1 million) in the overall enrolment of charter schools and from 2000 to 2017 the percentage of students in charter schools rose from 1% to 6%.
WHAT ARE CHARTER SCHOOLS?
Charter schools receive funding from the government so they are public schools but these schools are operated by organizations instead of local school districts and they are free from any local or significant state rules and regulations but they are accountable for the results.
- In 1992, the first charter school was opened in Minnesota but the first law that allowed the establishment of a charter school in that state was passed in 1991.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CHARTER SCHOOL:
There are some specific features of charter schools that distinguish it from other common school systems. Some of the features are listed below:
Why these schools are named charter?
Charter schools are called so because they conduct according to the conditions of a legally binding contract known as a charter.
These schools offer open admission policies. Any student eligible for public schools can attend charter schools.
Like public schools, charters also offer education free of cost and not discriminated by disability, race, religion, or gender.
Authorized & governed by:
Charter school authorizers differ from state to state or even within a state. The authorizer or a governing body issues a school’s charter to an operator.
Charter schools are stand-alone schools that can be operated by groups or organizations like:
- Community groups
- Groups of teachers
- Businesses / for-profit organization
- Faith-based groups
- Non-for-profit organization
Exemption from rules and regulations:
These schools are exempted from any state or district laws and regulations such as exempted from hiring certified teachers or mandatory longer school years for students. It may vary depending on the contract and the legislation of a state for charter schools.
Charter schools are accountable to the standards outlined in their charters. The school charter is typically reviewed every three to five years by the authorizer. If the school does not meet the standards laid out in its charter, the charter is not renewed and the school is closed.
COMPARISON OF CHARTER, PUBLIC & PRIVATE SCHOOLS:
Charter and public both schools are taxpayer-funded education but there are some major differences between them. Not all public schools can be considered as charter schools but all charter schools are also public schools. Listed below is a comparison between charter, public and private schools.
The Charter school:
- Charter schools are funded by the government so they provide education free of cost.
- Charter schools are independent public schools run by groups, businesses, or organizations.
- Charter schools are free from rules and regulations but are accountable for the result.
- Charter schools cannot discriminate against students based on family income, gender, race, or disability, etc.
- Charter schools are accountable for their student achievements and standards according to the charter contract under federal law.
- The curriculum, schedule, and teaching method of charter schools vary from institution to institution.
- Public schools provide free education as they also receive government funding.
- Public schools are run by local school districts.
- Public schools are bound to follow all state and federal laws and regulations.
- Public schools do not have the right to discriminate against students based on family income, gender, race, or disability, etc.
- Public schools are accountable for their student achievements and standards under federal law.
- All public schools have the same set of designed curriculum and offer the same type of classes.
- Private schools generate funding on their own through methods like tuition fees, grants, or donations from parents.
- Private schools are operated by private organizations.
- Private schools are not totally bound by the laws and regulations; they have little to no government oversight.
- Private schools have the authority to reject students based on any reason.
- Private schools are not held accountable for their standards or achievements under federal law.
- The curriculum and teaching method may or may not vary from, institution to institution.
PROS AND CONS OF CHARTER SCHOOLS:
Many people enjoy the flexibility and choice that charter schools offer for both teachers and students but when there are benefits, drawbacks also exist. Hence some of the pros and cons of charter schools for both teachers and students are listed below:
Many parents opt for charter schools because they believe these schools offer options to improve our education system, but some disagree. So, here is a list of some upsides and downsides of charter schools:
Advantages of charter schools:
- Charter schools offer new and innovative approaches towards learning and unique teaching methods to meet their student needs.
- Each charter school offers a specific theme, allowing the children to get the education and strengthen their skills and talents in the area of interest.
- Charter schools encourage parental involvement by assigning tasks that requires teamwork and participation of parents.
- Charter schools provide students a sense of freedom, allowing them to think outside the box and enhance their creativity.
- Statistics show that a high percentage of students from charter schools are accepted to top colleges and universities, proving the new and innovative techniques to be successful.
Disadvantages of charter schools:
- Charter schools are less stable as they operate based on a contract, so can shut down at any time of the year, leading to serious consequences.
- Charter schools require parents to cover the transportation cost which can be costly for the parents.
- Charter schools may not provide optimal facilities and resources to the students due to limited funding.
- Charter schools may require a great deal of homework and loads of after and out school requirements.
- Charter schools often offer limited sports and extracurricular activities which a major part of student’s education experience.
Nowadays teachers considering their employment find it difficult to decide between traditional public and charter schools. Though it may vary from institution to institution but here are some pros and cons listed to help with the decision-making.
Benefits of charter schools:
- Charter schools offer an empowering environment to its teaching staff, allowing them to have more say in the school’s going-on.
- At charter schools, teachers are offered “at-will” employment, giving teachers the flexibility to resign without any penalty or legal consequences.
- Charter schools offer teachers the opportunity to develop and grow by allowing them to adapt to teaching methods most suitable for their students.
- At charter schools, there is a high demand for teachers, allowing them to gain experience under guidance and freedom.
Drawbacks of charter schools:
- Charter schools can be particularly demanding in terms of work hours which may result in young teachers respond with resentment and opt to leave the profession.
- Charter schools offer a smaller paycheck which is a shortfall in terms of the long hours required from the teachers.
- Charter schools do not offer any retirement programs or health insurance for their teaching staff.
- Offering great flexibility to the teaching staff, charter schools can have management and quality uncertainties, resulting in substandard curriculum and parent and teacher dissatisfaction.
SO ARE CHARTER SCHOOLS BETTER?
So are charter schools a better choice? The majority of researches found that the achievements and results of students from charter schools are almost the same compared to public schools.
Though charter schools offer a variety of options and allow students to opt according to their areas of interest but it may not ideal for every student so both parents and students should take their academic and social needs into account and choose the best fit for them.