Getting Schooled Part III: Charter Schools

This is part three in a five part series on school choices.

Part I is an introduction with statistics.

Part II is about Private Schools.

This installment is about the option of Charter Schools.

Like public schools, charter schools receive public money but, unlike public schools, they are not necessarily held accountable to the same rules or regulations. Charter schools receive part of their funding through whomever founded/chartered the school. This can be a parent, teacher, or activist group or it can be a non-profit group, university or, in some cases, corporation.

Also like public schools, charter schools are not for profit.

The original idea behind charter schools is that they would be run autonomously much like a private business so that they would be free of government rules and regulations.

This does not mean they are exempt from state/federal academic standards. It means they have more control over what sort of environment and culture they want to establish.

The biggest benefit of the existence of charter schools is that they provide families with a choice when it comes to what is best for their child(ren). This choice provides competition for the public schools. Some see this as a positive that will make public schools strive harder to be successful and appealing to families.

On the other hand, charter schools cannot possibly take all students the way public schools are required to do. Therefore, if a charter school is successful and sought after by families, it will most likely have a lottery system for admission. Thus becoming somewhat exclusive.

Also, the competition they create with public schools is not exactly fair.  Charter schools often have access to monies per pupil that public schools do not while at the same time being free of regulations for spending money. This means a charter school may choose to spend its funds on more teachers to create smaller class sizes, where the funding a public school gets may only be earmarked for technology or a new gym floor.

The theory behind charter schools getting rid of government red tape to educate children works only on a small level.  If a charter school fails to preform, it will lose its charter and either be shut down or absorbed back into the public school system.  If the idea was a guarantee, it would seem to be a no brainer to extend the theory to all public schools.

When you try to remove rules and regulations from an enormous system like the American Public Schools, you get chaos and uneven standards and practices.

In theory, charter schools are the answer.

In practice, they are the answer only for some, not all.

And America educates all.