Charter Schools - How They Work
Jan 22, 2011 Other 1953 Views
Many people have misconceptions about charter schools and the way in which they benefit the community. Parents sometimes avoid placing their children in one of these educational centers because they do not understand how they work, while others will opt to place their children there with unrealistic expectations about what they can achieve.
Charter schools are public educational centers governed by charters. They are funded by taxpayer money, but they run independently of the public school district. The charters outline the mission of the school, programs it will use, goals it should have, and students it will serve. They will have their own school boards, rather than being accountable to the city's school boards.
There are many differences between the two types of educational systems. A public school is governed by the school district, which makes decisions for all of the educational centers under it. On the other hand, charter schools have more autonomy, because they have their own private board controlling what they do. This means they can make their own decisions about which teachers and staff members to hire, what curriculum to use, and even which food services to offer. This allows them to tailor their teaching and educational techniques to the needs of the students they are serving.
While they are independent, these educational centers are not without accountability. Each state will have its own accountability standards applied to a school of this type. Often, the accountability is quite strict, which contributes to the excellent reputation of this type of educational structure. The students are pushed to perform well, because they must perform well in order to pass the state's testing standards.
What makes this educational structure confusing for parents is the fact that they are still sending their child to a public school that is funded through tax dollars, even if the educational structure is quite different. These are nonprofit organizations supported by tax dollars based on the number of students in the school. Each school receives funding on a per-pupil basis, and parents do not pay tuition for this type of education. Some are selective in the students they accept, while others offer open enrollment to any interested family. Each state has different laws that govern the selectiveness allowed for these educational settings.
Anyone can start a school who wishes to do so. Often this will be a team of teachers, a group of concerned parents, or even an organization in the community that has a concern for education. Universities can also start them. Each state has its own laws about how they must be set up, but all require charters that outline the mission, achievement standards, and educational programs the school will utilize.
Parents choose charter schools for many different reasons. Some decide to put their children in one because of problems they see in their local public school. Others will find that they agree with the plans and goals outlined in the charters, making this a more appealing educational choice for their children. Regardless of the reason, for many, charters offer an alternative to the traditional public school for students who are not having their educational needs met in a conventional setting.