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What Are The Pros and Cons of Charter Schools?

The Pros and Cons of Charter Schools: Choosing the Best School

When it comes to you or your child’s education, we all want what the best. Education, after all, is one of the most important, foundational parts of who we are and who we become. In this modern age of education in the U.S., we are faced with new options all the time for K-12 education. Charter schools are a relatively recent education model widely available across the U.S., which stand as tuition-free alternatives to traditional public schools.

So, what are the pros and cons of charter schools? Are they better or worse than a public school option? These are the major questions to consider as you research the best choice for your student, and we will help you on your journey by breaking it down for you here.

What are Charter Schools?

Public Schools of Choice. Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are held accountable by their own contract, or charter, that they make with a larger governing body, typically the state. The charter defines the school’s mission, management, standards for success, and means of measuring these standards. The charter serves as the standard for education in place of the specified rules and regulations that traditional public schools abide by.

Classroom with students learning in Tucson.

Freedom to be Different

That means charter schools have increased autonomy and independence to do education in new ways. Often, charter schools are held to a higher standard because they write the standard themselves when they apply with the state. If, however, a charter school fails to meet its set standards for curriculum and management, the government can revoke the charter and suspend or shut down the school.

Unique Standards Means more Flexibility

In other words, it’s a tuition-free public school that operates under a contract agreeing to abide by set guidelines and goals. In exchange for exemptions from some government rules and regulations, the charter school must follow its own determined charter.

Large Range of Charter School Types

Since they set their own guidelines and standards and operate without some of the restrictions of public schools, they often look very different from public schools and different from each other! However, in general, they have several similar pros and cons when compared to public schools.

Lets break down the pros and cons of charter schools:

Pros

Cons

Smaller Class SizeMay not have transportation options
Smaller School SizeMay require more fundraising
More of a Family EnvironmentLess student diversity
Different Styles of TeachingFewer Sports & Extracurriculars
Qualified TeachersLess stable teacher contracts
Fewer Discipline ProblemsLess support for special needs
More Specialized ApproachSometimes lottery system to enroll
Increased Ability To Try New ThingsNot as standardized

Advantages of Charter Schools

More Choice. Usually, the best thing about a particular one is tied to the reason it was founded in the first place. That is to say, each one tends to focus on a particular style and approach to their school’s design. There are many different models that they use. The Montessori method, a STEM model, No Excuses schools, Online schools, or Hybrid models, to name a few. Basically, the greatest advantage of a charter school is the choice. This is a huge plus in the debate of pros and cons.

Tight-Knit Community

In addition, because charter schools are designed to fulfill a particular need, they tend to attract a similar kind of student. As a result, charter school communities often develop a tight-knit group of parents and families who share similar values. So whether the focus is math, science, the arts, or flexible scheduling as the hallmark, the community tends to be smaller and more intimate than public school options. Plus, charter schools often have increased parent involvement which helps the education community to thrive.

Individualized Approach

Charter schools have more autonomy to tailor their education to what their founders feel is best for the individual students being served. That means more ability to adapt approaches to what works best at the local level for students. In a world of ever more standardization, charter schools offer diversity and flexibility. Additionally, they often draw in highly qualified teachers who are inspired by alternate approaches to education outside of the public school system.

Disadvantages of Charter Schools

Less Special Needs Services. Charter schools are criticized for failing to meet the needs of higher needs student populations. While this is certainly not true of all charter schools, in general, they have fewer resources and devote less funding to support special needs students. Public schools are required to abide by a much stricter set of laws and regulations to provide quality education to ALL students, no matter the severity or complexity of a possible disability. Charter schools cannot turn down students because of a disability. They often simply do not have the resources to serve such students.

Smaller Size Means Different Resources

Because charter schools tend to be smaller than public schools, sports programs, extra-curricular options, and other resources are less robust than public schools. That is not to say they do not offer sports of extra-curricular options, they do. But, in general, a smaller sized school means less competition for sports and less money to devote to athletic development. The caveat once again, however, is that charter schools vary greatly, with some emphasizing sports development. So the lesson is to always evaluate a charter school individually to determine the goodness of fit for the student.

The Big Take Away

They were created as a unique option for a tuition-free alternative to public schools. They are simply different from public schools! How they differ is mostly about the individual approach of the charter school itself. However, overall differences between charter and public have to do with resource allocation and size. In general, charter schools focus their resources and approach to accomplishing their unique models for education. While the mandate of public schools is to serve all children covering needs according to a standardized style.

Student graduating at Rose Charter school in Tucson.

Options Benefit Students

So what is best for your student? It depends on his or her individual goals and needs. The good news is that they exist offering a free alternative to the one-size-fits-all model of public education. The hope now is that you go about this huge decision with clear eyes. Treat each individual school, whether charter or otherwise, as a unique option with both positives and negatives. Weigh out the options to match the right school with your values and needs. Come “Experience the Difference” at a R.O.S.E.® Academy. Education is our focus, and success is our hallmark. Feel free to get in contact with us for any information. Our friendly staff will be more than happy to help you go over the pros and cons of charter schools.

What Is A Charter School?

What is a charter school?

A charter school is a school that has increased flexibility and independence to tailor it’s educational approach while still operating from government funding. It is called a charter school because the unique identity and approach must is written into a document called the “charter” for the school. The charter explains management, organization, achievement standards, and how these educational goals will be measured. While laws vary by state, most charter schools not have to abide by the rules and regulations of public schools. This allows for a wide range of possibilities for charter schools to forge a new path to create successful schools. It also means charter schools can look very different depending on the school’s mission and style.

How Long Have Charter Schools Existed?

In the U.S., Minnesota was the first state to pass laws permitting charter schools to operate in 1991. Since then, charter schools have expanded at an incredible pace. For example, from 2000 to 2016 charter school attendance increased from 1% to 6%. As of 2016, more than 3 million students utilize charter schools for their educational needs. California, Arizona, and Michigan have the most charter schools. This robust increase points to the fact that many charter schools are successful and growing. While different from a traditional public school, charter schools offer many opportunities for new ways to operate a school and new ways for students to learn. Charter schools continue to grow and find success in meeting the unique needs of students where many public options fell short.

What Kinds of Charter Schools Are There?

With over 7,000 charter schools across the U.S. and counting, each one is unique. For example, some charter schools emphasize art integration, some use a STEM model, others are designed for college prep, and still more incorporate flexible schedules or online, in-class hybrids. While most charter schools are located in urban areas, many have been established in rural and suburban areas as well. Some charter schools are language-focused, even teaching every subject in two different languages. Every part of a charter school’s identity from location, rules and expectations, school day times, curriculum focus and more is one-of-a-kind. It all depends on the school’s charter itself. Plus, the kinds of students who attend charter schools give each school its unique makeup.

Why Are So Many Families Choosing to Enroll in Charter Schools?

In the same way that charter schools span a wide range of possibilities and styles, students are unique individuals with their own goals for success. Charter schools are the revolutionary alternative to the traditional public school model. So whether students and parents are interested in avoiding a less than satisfactory experience, or their unique needs fit better with a charter school in their area, there are so many reasons to look into charter schools.

At times, families may choose a charter school for its teachers, management style, facilities, or overall reputation. With the additional autonomy given to charter schools, they are often held to a higher standard since they are required to adhere to their own mission statement and goals for success. The bottom line is that charter schools provide options for families, and this relatively new education model is serving millions of students successfully in the U.S. The reasons that parents choose charter schools for their children are just as unique as the students themselves. They choose charter schools because of the strong, dedicated teachers, because the school’s focus matches their child’s needs, or simply because their child was struggling in their assigned public school and needed to try something new. Charter schools provide families with options in public education, allowing parents to take a more active role in their child’s education.

A charter school has increased flexibility and independence

Charter vs. Public

Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that families choose them for their children. They operate with freedom from some of the regulations that are imposed upon district schools. Charter schools are accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charters. They must demonstrate performance in the areas of academic achievement, financial management, and organizational stability. If a charter school does not meet performance goals, it may be closed.

Are Charter Schools all the same?

No. Charter schools can vary a great deal in their design and in their results. Uncommon Schools creates schools based on the principles and practices that have proven successful in producing significant academic gains at high-performing urban charter public schools across the country.

NOTHING IMPROVES THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE MORE THAN EDUCATION

Education is what changes us from what we are into what we could become. Nowhere is that more true than at the high school level. As high schools in Tucson, R.O.S.E.® Academies is focused on improving the educational experience of Tucson students. We are proud to have been a part of the successful education of so many Tucson high school students over the years. Our unique approach to high school education here in Tucson allows students to take control of their academic lives and succeed, both while in school and even after graduation.

What Makes Rose different?

Imagine a fun classroom with a friendly environment and lots of personal attention! That’s part of the R.O.S.E.® difference. Teachers are caring guides who work with students and are not just strict disciplinarians. R.O.S.E.® Academy classrooms are safe, engaging, and provide a personalized, small school environment. Computers and state-of-the-art equipment allow students to be engaged but not overwhelmed. An education at the R.O.S.E.® Academies brings continued success for high school students, young adults, after graduation. The R.O.S.E.® Personal Progress Plan helps students achieve graduation and post-graduation goals on an individual basis. Come “Experience the Difference” at a R.O.S.E.® Academy. Education is our focus, and success is our hallmark.

To recap, here are all of the benefits of attending the Rose Academies:

  • Small class sizes
  • One main classroom
  • Everyone knows your name
  • One-on-one instruction
  • Your course schedule is built with you
  • Self-Paced but not self-taught
  • Flexible Sessions throughout the day
  • Single point of contact
  • No bells, no passing periods
  • No fees, minimal supplies

Who Wins When It’s Charter Schools Vs. Public?

Charter Schools vs. Public: Which is Better?

When it comes to choosing between a public or a charter school there are many different factors to consider. That being said, which is better will depend on the needs and goals of the student. It may be difficult to speak in broad strokes about public vs. charter schools because, like the students they serve, each individual school is unique. Still, fundamental differences in the rules, guidelines, and regulations for charter vs. public means each model offers a different set of opportunities for students.

What Are Charter Schools?

Charter schools are public schools that function by their own terms so to speak. Most state laws allow a charter school option where the school creates a contract with the state declaring what their school’s mission, goals, management, and modes for measuring success will be. This contract is the “charter” in charter schools! Because they operate outside of the typical public school structure, they have a much greater range of diversity of styles.

How About Popularity?

Charter schools are a relatively new education option first started in Minnesota in 1991. Since then, they have grown and they currently meet educational needs of over 7% of all students. That’s more than 3 million students! Nonetheless, public schools are still the most popular option serving about 90% of all students across the U.S.

Charter Schools vs Public Education

Who Can Attend Charter Schools?

Public schools are required to be available to serve all students across the country. Typically, students are assigned to their local public schools based on their address and proximity to the school. However, they are open enrollment meaning any student can attend even if they live further away. Some of them use lottery systems to select students, but, in general, like public education, charters cannot turn down students. That being said, many charter schools do not include resources to meet some special needs students, whereas public schools are required to do so. If you or your child has special needs requirements make sure to inquire about what resources are available, particularly when thinking about a school option.

Incredible Range of Differences in Charter Schools

Because charter schools are created based on their own mandate of the mission, management, and measures of success, they are incredibly diverse–much more so than public education. With the parameters opened wide, education innovators have developed many different types of schools under the charter label. Here are some of the broader categories of charter school types:

No Excuses:

  • They with rigorous academic and behavioral standards often called “No Excuses” schools, are popular in many larger city settings often serving lower socioeconomic status students. larger city settings often serving lower socioeconomic status students. No excuses schools encompass roughly 15% of all charter schools, though they might use the term for themselves. Even within this category, such schools have a wide range of different looks and approaches.

Online:

  • Serving approximately 8% of all charter students, virtual schools have taken schooling into the online classroom. The online-only option, while somewhat popular, has been harshly criticized for leaving students with much diminished academic learning in reading and math. Nonetheless, students who are motivated, independent, and organized can enjoy increased flexibility and success with such an option.

Hybrid:

  • The schools combine face-to-face learning with an online format. Some hybrid schools have teachers onsite to assist students as they complete requirements in computer centers at the school, and others allow additional focus for at-home work time. The schools with more face-to-face time, on-site hour requirements, and a better teacher to student ratios far outperform those with a more “work-from-home” emphasis.

Expeditionary Learning:

  • Also referred to as “EL,” Expeditionary Learning schools focus on experiential learning through the completion of research projects. Within this overall model, students gain critical thinking, communication, and craftsmanship skills.

The Pros & Cons of charter schools vs public school

Pros

Cons

Smaller Class SizeMay not have transportation options
Smaller School SizeMay require more fundraising
More of a Family EnvironmentLess student diversity
Different Styles of TeachingFewer Sports & Extracurriculars
Qualified TeachersLess stable teacher contracts
Fewer Discipline ProblemsLess support for special needs
More Specialized ApproachSometimes lottery system to enroll
Increased Ability To Try New ThingsNot as standardized

What Do Parents Think?

In national surveys asking parents to rate various categories of both types of satisfaction, charter schools outpaced the public in several categories. Both were rated about the same for the quality of teachers, safety, and facilities. Charter schools, however, were rated better in discipline, achievement, and character instruction. But remember, the quality and standards of the individual school count! they also vary greatly across every measure, so it is important to assess each school individually to find a good match.

What Parents think of Charter Schools

The Bottom Line

They were created to fulfill a need in the community. Where public education fell short charter schools have risen to meet the needs of students looking for an alternative. Since they set their own goals and standards (which are enforced by the government according to the approved charter of each such school), they may be very good options for the student, or not so good.

More Options

The goodness of fit for each student is the most important factor. Does the student prefer a highly structured, strict, and academically-rigorous environment? Perhaps, a more flexible schedule with an individual learning pace is the best option. Or, maybe the student would be best served in a public school with special needs resources more widely available. Whatever the case, charter schools have opened the box for more options and more possibilities for students across the board. Consider the needs and goals of individual students to match with the best school for you. For more information, you can reach Rose Academies at 520-797-4884 today.