Charter schools offer families an alternative to their designated public schools. They are frequently lumped in with private schools, but there are a few important distinctions that you should be aware of. Charter schools are public schools since they are funded by taxpayers and the government. Therefore, they must abide by a charter set forth by regional and national oversight bodies.
Charter schools have autonomy separate from district-run schools. They have their own governing boards which gives them the option to create classroom environments that suit their students’ needs.
The most significant factors contributing to the popularity of charter schools are the variety of education they provide and the flexibility they grant to parents and students.
Among these institutions is Imagine Schools which was founded in 2004. It is a national nonprofit network of public charter schools catering to pre-K-12 students and now consists of 60 public charter campuses, including Imagine Schools at West Melbourne.
Pros and Cons of Charter Schools
Charter schools can be fantastic. However, they can also have downsides that make you scratch your head.
A lot of people think that charter schools can help make the education system better. Others don’t agree at all. So let’s take a quick look at charter schools’ pros and cons to learn more about them.
Why Charter Schools Are Good
Charter schools take what’s good about public schools and make them even better. This way, your kids get the best of both worlds.
- Innovative Methods of Instruction
- Accepts Unique Learning Styles
- Close-Knit Community Environment
- More Accountability in Charter Schools
- Increased Parental Involvement
- Provide Additional Options Where Parents Can Enroll Their Children
- High Acceptance Rates At Leading Universities
- Higher Test Scores
- Students and Parents Pay No Tuition in Florida
- Curriculum Specialization
Innovative Methods of Instruction
Charter schools have more autonomy. They are given the ability to align their curriculum and resources to meet the needs of their communities.
Charter schools are required to meet state standards.
The flexibility of charter schools’ teaching and education methods appeals to parents and students, especially if the student’s learning needs require it.
Accepts Unique Learning Styles
Different teaching methods benefit students with diverse learning needs. There are thousands of charter schools from which parents and children can choose. Charter school students benefit from differentiated learning. Therefore, teachers must consider each student’s individual needs in their classrooms.
Close-Knit Community Environment
Because charter schools typically have students and smaller class sizes, they foster a sense of community.
Students benefit from smaller classes. Teachers spend more time with students to assess their learning needs and weaknesses. Smaller classrooms foster an environment where students feel comfortable participating and being themselves. As a result, students form stronger bonds with their classmates.
More Accountability in Charter Schools
Charter schools are typically held more accountable for the educational goals they have set as their main focus because they are run under separate contracts that determine their own curriculum and educational focus.
Increased Parental Involvement
Charter schools involve parents in their child’s education more than public schools do.
Parents usually select the charter school and want to be involved in their child’s learning progress to ensure schools meet standards and learning objectives.
Greater parental involvement in children’s education improves overall achievement, a significant benefit of charter schools.
Provide Additional Options Where Parents Can Enroll Their Children
Charter schools were created to help students who were not having their educational needs met in public schools. This led to innovative teaching methods that have helped many students. Parents and students can choose from over 7,000 charter schools for their child’s education.
High Acceptance Rates At Leading Universities
According to recent studies, charter school students have a high chance of being accepted into top universities after graduating. This could be due to several factors, including smaller classroom sizes, more engaged teachers, and customized education, all of which contribute to higher test scores and admission rates.
Higher Test Scores
Charter schools are motivated through incentivization to obtain high test scores to demonstrate their caliber to draw students and continue receiving support. To achieve this, charter school teachers must tailor their lesson plans to students’ unique learning styles.
Students and Parents Pay No Tuition in Florida
Charter schools are free for students to attend, which helps underprivileged or underserved communities. Many families can’t pay additional fees for their child’s education. Parents can consider charter schools without worrying about tuition costs.
Charter schools can have their curriculum resources that vary from school districts. Parents can choose from schools with specific learning goals and objectives. This is a massive advantage of charter schools because many students want to focus on topics that interest them, whether it’s their passion or a possible career path.
Problems With Charter Schools
There are a lot of great things about charter schools, but there are also a lot of things to take into consideration before putting your child in one.
- Charter Schools Differ by State
- Charter Schools’ Quality Vary
- Admissions Procedures Can Be Complicated
- Unfavorable Public Perception of Teacher Turnover Rate
- Charter Schools Sometimes Expect Parents To Volunteer
- Charter Schools May Need To Fundraise
- Possible Abuse of School Funds
- School Resources and Amenities are Limited
- Reduced Student Diversity
- Charter Schools Run on Contracts
Charter Schools Differ by State
Charter schools have more flexibility than public schools but must still follow state or district regulations. Some states have stricter curriculum regulations for charter schools. This affects charter schools’ planning and curriculum flexibility.
Charter Schools’ Quality Vary
The regulations governing charter schools vary by state, as does the quality of education they provide. Some states, for instance, have more lax oversight of charter schools, which is viewed as a contributing factor to the deterioration of education quality.
Admissions Procedures Can Be Complicated
With thousands of applications yearly, charter schools do not typically require entrance exams, interviews, or auditions commonly associated with private school admission. However, many parents and students find the enrollment process more complicated.
Some high-performing charter schools use a blind lottery to determine who can enroll. How these lotteries operate varies by location, with some areas providing advantages to families who meet specific criteria.
Unfavorable Public Perception of Teacher Turnover Rate
There is an enduring criticism of high teacher turnover rates in charter schools, either because of burnout or dissatisfaction. It causes a red flag to parents interested in enrolling their children in one.
However, the national data depict a different picture. According to the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), conducted by the U.S. Department of Education between 2011–12 and 2012–13, teacher turnover has decreased from about 24% to 18%.
The report also emphasized that there was no statistically significant difference in turnover rates between conventional public and charter schools.
Charter Schools Sometimes Expect Parents To Volunteer
On average, charter schools have fewer employers and staff members. As a result, charter schools frequently rely on their students’ parents to fund school events, extracurriculars, and other activities. The disadvantage is that some parents may not be capable of dedicating time or money to this endeavor. If the school cannot find other volunteers, the school project, i.e., renovations, will be impacted, and students will suffer because of the inadequacies.
Charter Schools May Need To Fundraise
While charter schools receive public funding, it is not equitable with district funding.
Charter schools frequently need to raise money if they want to support additional educational programs, projects, or student activities.
The majority of parents join the school’s management board in fundraising efforts. However, the need to fundraise during the school year can cause anxiety and frustration for parents and students, especially if events are canceled due to a shortage of funds.
Possible Abuse Of School Funds
Given charter schools’ autonomy from local school districts, opponents have been highly critical of how such a system, backed by state and local funding, would bring transparency and accountability to the table.
News reports were published, citing millions of public funds allocated to some charter schools wasted due to fraud and misappropriations of funds.
Over the last decade, states have developed stricter fiscal accountability measures to address such controversies.
School Resources and Amenities Are Limited
Some charter schools have a specific focus for their programs. Which leads to needing more resources and not having the amenities and resources that every school requires. A parent will need to make the decision what their needs are and what is more important for their child’s successful education.
Reduced Student Diversity
An AP story published in 2017 became contentious, sparking protests from charter school supporters. It underlined how charter schools are isolating a growing number of students based on their race.
According to data from the 2014-15 school year, more than 1,000 of the country’s 6,747 charter schools had at least 99% minority enrollment.
Some charter school supporters argued that blaming charter schools for the lack of integration was erroneous because the system’s primary concern has always been to provide adequate education to the disadvantaged and underserved student population.
A fact sheet published by the Florida Department of Education in 2019 indicated that 69% of students in the state’s charter schools were minorities.
Charter Schools Run On Contracts
While charter schools are subject to fewer state government rules, they are still required to meet specific educational standards to operate.
A number of charter schools fail to adhere to the minimum education standards, which forces some schools to get closed, hindering student learning throughout the academic year.
This is a significant concern when enrolling students in charter schools and should be considered when comparing the qualifications of various charter schools.
Should I enroll my child in a charter school?
To answer this, think about what you want for your child. Then, weighing the benefits and drawbacks of registering your children in a charter school would be best to make an informed decision.
At Imagine Schools West Melbourne, your child will receive the most personalized attention possible. Our individualized learning focus, character education, innovative programs, accelerated curriculum, and high expectations distinguish us and allow our certified teachers to devote more time and attention to your child. Our curriculum also ensures students have fun while learning as we also maintain excellent relationships with all the parents, guardians and the rest of the community.
We invite you to see for yourself all the benefits of being a part of the Imagine School Family!