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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.