Charter schools across the country are garnering increased attention because of their higher standards and ability to outperform other public schools. A common misconception about charter schools is that they are private schools. In actuality, charter schools are tuition-free public schools which have received a charter from the state in which they operate. This allows them to function as public schools and receive some public funding, but the school is still responsible for keeping its charter from year to year. Because they seek to renew their charter annually, charter schools have an incentive to perform and to maintain higher standards than other public schools.
Charter schools, however, do not have admission requirements, nor can they choose their students based on ability. When demand exceeds available space, charter schools operate on a lottery basis. Those that are not admitted through the lottery process are placed on a waiting list. Students on the waiting list are selected in the order the application was received unless the student’s sibling is already enrolled in the charter school. Students with siblings already enrolled are moved to top of the waiting list to ensure the entire family is part of the charter school.
Charter schools place a large emphasis on parental involvement, which is one of the many reasons charter schools are so successful. Many charter schools require parents to volunteer for a set number of hours per school year. Volunteering takes on many forms, such as helping in the classroom or office, supervising recess, creating a school website, landscaping the school grounds, etc. This type of service creates a family, can-do atmosphere. When parents are actively involved in their child’s education, it increases the chances of their child’s success.
Charter schools are not limited by geography. Since they are not part of a traditional school district, you can live as close or as far away from the school as you would like, as long as you provide transportation. So if you really like a subdivision but not its school district, charter schools provide a good alternative.
One of the many advantages to choosing a charter school is its strict disciplinary code. Each charter school adopts a code of conduct to which all students must adhere. Violation of these codes is taken very seriously and can jeopardize the student’s enrollment. Charter schools also often adopt a dress code which acts as an equalizer among students with varying socioeconomic backgrounds.
A major difference between charter schools and other public schools is that charter schools hire and fire teachers based on their performance. They do not employ tenured teachers. This ensures that teachers on staff are awarded contracts based on merit, not years of experience. Parents can be confident knowing that their child’s teachers are knowledgeable professionals. Charter schools also have more freedom when choosing which curriculum to implement. Many schools utilize the Core Knowledge curriculum, which covers historical, scientific, and cultural topics as they pertain to each grade level.
Finally, enough cannot be said about the spirit of excellence and community one finds within a charter school. Charter schools want your child to be met with challenge and opportunity every day. They have your child’s best interests at heart. If you haven’t considered a charter school before, there’s no better time. Charter schools are an excellent alternative to traditional public schools.