Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
Charter schools are schools that receive public funding but operate separately from the established public school system.
Often called a “School of Choice”, these schools can be established by anyone; a community group, an organization of parents, or a group of teachers. However, they must follow the terms of a charter that are dictated by local, regional, national authorities or oversight groups.
Since charter schools operate outside of the regulations that in-district schools are forced to follow, they have the freedom to design classrooms that meet their students’ needs. Each of the hundreds of charter schools is unique in its design and operation with endless possibilities. Some have longer school days, some teach the entire curriculum in multiple languages, and some require students to wear a uniform.
History of Charter Schools
In 1974, Ray Budde, an education professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, originally introduced the idea of charter schools. It was further developed by Albert Shanker in 1988, who called for a reform of public schools. He established what he termed as “Schools of Choice”.
The state of Minnesota passed the first charter school law in 1991. Since then 43 states, including Washington, D.C., have included charter schools in their education system. Today, there are hundreds of charter schools within the US and many more charter-style schools catching on across the world.
Pros and Cons of Charter Schools
Advantages and Disadvantages of Charter Schools
Many people believe charter schools offer options to improve our education system. Others strongly disagree. Let’s take a brief look at the upsides and downsides of charter schools for a deeper understanding.
Pros of Charter Schools
Supporters believe that charter schools increase learning opportunities and provide greater access to quality education. Let’s take a look at why.
1. Different Approach to Education
Charter schools allow for different approaches and styles of education. Most traditional public schools follow roughly the same methods of teaching students. Charter schools, on the other hand, focus more on certain subjects like math and science. They may use Montessori techniques or other alternatives methods for education.
2. More Innovation
Charter schools can help children to learn without harsh discipline. Experiential and innovative learning is often seen in charter schools because there is a sort of independence.
3. Competitive Environment
When competition is lacking, laziness in teaching and other policies could be created. Even if they are scoring bad, they don’t pay much mind to it because they know they will be still operating. But charter schools encourage competitions which creates accountability.
4. Private School Environment
Although charter schools are funded publicly, they are more independent than neighborhood public schools. This makes it more like private schools, minus the fees. They need to hire licensed teachers and administer state-mandated tests. They can even be closed for under-performance.
5. Close-knit Communities
Many charter schools tend to be smaller schools with smaller class sizes, and have closer-knit communities. Smaller classroom sizes have numerous benefits. They allow teachers to know the students at an individual level and have a better understanding of their academic abilities and struggles which allows them to tailor their education more closely to what the student needs.
Disadvantages of Charter Schools
Although there are numerous benefits of studying in a charter school, there are some negative aspects as well. Some of its disadvantages are explained below.
1. Fewer Outdoor Activities
Smaller charter schools often have fewer options for sports and other extracurricular activities. Extracurricular and sports are a huge part of children’s education experience, and comparatively limited options that a charter school provides can be a big downside.
2. Less Stable
Charter schools are not as stable as traditional schools. They operate on contract and they can shut down at any time of the year even in the middle of the school year. This can create serious consequences.
Up to $1 billion has been wasted on charter schools that never opened or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons. All this money goes to corrupt people around charter schools.
4. Teachers Workload
Teachers at charter schools often have intense work schedules. They are held to longer hours and higher levels of stress due to the higher standards. They have no recourse to protect their working conditions.
Charter schools often don’t provide there own transportation. Public schools have bus services for students of their area but charter schools require parents to drop off students or have them use public transportation. This is inconvenient because all parents may not have the time and resources to facilitate their transportation.
Ultimately, how good or bad charter schools are, depends quite a lot on the specific school. The fact that charter schools are publicly funded but privately run has led to a certain degree of controversy among the public. As the number of charter schools continues to soar up, so does the debate surrounding these schools as an alternative option to public education.
Besides, a charter school education is not ideal for every child. Your child’s academic and social needs must be taken into account before choosing a school. Finding a school that your child easily fits in plays a great role in his/her success, so you must pursue the best possible education suitable for your child. Other opportunities include pursuing online education. You must be comfortable with the education choice you make for your child.