The straining American education system has been begging for help. Of late, charter schools have been tapped to fill the need.
According to PublicCharters.gov during the 2017-18 school year, more than 7,000 charter schools enrolled nearly 3.2 million students across the nation.
Charter schools are public institutions, however, they can be beholden to private organizations. Each charter school signs a contract(or charter), agreed upon between school management and the entity that authorizes the school’s existence—which can be private institutions or the local public board of education.
Charter schools are tuition-free and open to all on a first-come, first-serve basis, or by a local lottery. Charters have unique autonomy that allows them to design their own curriculum and budgets. This means charter schools can have different operating hours, coursework and teacher requirements than public schools in the area.
With charter schools becoming increasingly prevalent, a number of myths about these institutions have begun to spread.
Today we are going to discuss, and maybe even debunk, the top five myths about charter schools:
Charter Schools Don’t Offer the Same Quality Education
One of the most common myths about charter schools is that these institutions don’t offer the same quality education as public schools.
The reality is a number of studies have proven charter school students and public school students achieve nearly identical scores on national exams.
For example, the ‘School Choice in the United States: 2019’ report revealed in 2017 for grades 4 through 8, that no measurable differences in average reading and mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress(NAEP) were seen between students in traditional public and public charter schools.
Charter schools also have some unique capabilities and privileges which allow their students to better prepare for the working world as well. For example, school management systems enable students to experience the type of online task management systems used by the majority of employers these days. Overall charter school
STEM Education Isn’t Valued
STEM(Science, technology, engineering, math) education is a talking point of senators and Presidential candidates alike these days. Everyone can see the future will be led by those who are well versed in STEM subjects.
One of the strangest myths around about charter schools is that they don’t value STEM education as much as public schools. This has been proven to be an incorrect assumption based on student test results. Public schools and charter schools have similar STEM test results, while charter schools have a more diverse and low-income student body.
There are even STEM specific schools like Academies of Math & Science that bring quality math and science education to the next level.
Charter Schools Aren’t For Low-Income Students
Some people often say charter schools aren’t for low-income students. This just isn’t true. The fact is that charter schools have 55% of low-income students on average vs. public schools who average just 50% of low-income students, according to data from In-Perspective.org.
Charter schools are also far more diverse than the average public school. Traditional public schools in the U.S are 50% white vs. just 33% white for charter schools.
Charter Schools Don’t Offer Anything Different
Another common myth about charter schools is that they don’t offer anything different from the average public school. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Take Alma Del Mar, a K–8 charter founded by Will Gardnerm Ed.M.’10 as an example. The school was founded in 2011 after Gardnerm saw the plight of low-income students in an afterschool program he was running. He decided to start a quality charter for these struggling students in response.
Alma’s teachers are highly educated and expected to go above and beyond the role of a normal teacher. Alma focuses on college and career prep starting in Kindergarten and their results have been outstanding. Not surprising when you find teachers are required to visit the home of each child in their class at least once a year.
Alma does things differently, and the results have been amazing.
The final myth that is often perpetuated surrounding charter schools is the idea that charter schools aren’t held accountable.
Charter Schools Aren’t Accountable
The reality is a school’s charter is reviewed regularly, by the charter school authorizer. If the school fails to meet the standards originally outlined in its charter, the school cannot be renewed and is subsequently closed. Not only that, the vast majority of charter school authorizers are local school districts and the totality of charter performance is reviewed annually by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).
Charter schools have been a blessing for the struggling American education system. Unfortunately, there have been a number of myths perpetuated about these schools which have hampered enrollment. Over time, I believe people will come to appreciate the value in the charter school system and enrollment will increase.
Hopefully, this article helps to quell some concerns surrounding charter schools. These schools are fine institutions that can provide quality services to the public if given the opportunity.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Private School
Are you considering a private school for your child’s education? If so, then it’s important that you know what to look for, and which questions to ask to make sure that you have found a school that is going to provide your child with everything that they need for a great future and and if it would fit the family’s monthly budget template.
You will want to take a close look at your options, visit a number of different schools and talk with school officials and staff to make sure that you have found the right school for your child. We’ve put together some of the most important questions to ask when choosing a private school.
#1. What is the School Vision?
It’s important to find out what the vision, or philosophy of the school is, to make sure that it is in line with your own beliefs and values for your child’s education. More often than not, the philosophy of the school will be reflected in its mission statement and you can speak with staff to go into further detail when it comes to what exactly this entails.
#2. What Type of Students are You Looking For?
Most schools will happily accept students from a wide range of backgrounds and several different academic and social profiles. However, it is more common for private schools in particular to target a specific type of student. For example, they may prefer students who have a certain academic focus, such as math or music, and beyond academics they may be looking for kids who are more socially aware, interested in sports, ambitious, independent and more. Asking this question gives you a good idea of whether or not your child is going to fit in and have both their academic and social needs catered to well at a certain school.
#3. What are the Class Sizes and Teacher to Student Ratios?
If you’re exploring a school, then you’ll want to know just how much one to one time with teachers your child is going to get. Most children tend to thrive more in smaller classes, so that should be an important question. Smaller classes mean that teachers can better get to know kids as individuals and provide them with a more tailored learning plan.
To give you a feel for what you can expect, you should check out Brambleton preschool’s website; a private school in Brambleton which prepares their pupil’s minds for the future education ahead of them and uses a curriculum which allows teachers to individualize their learning and make it interactive. The specific curriculum they use is called the Ascend Curriculum which is definitely worth looking into if you want your child to develop key skills as they learn.
#4. What Extracurricular Activities do You Offer?
Finally, find out what extracurricular activities the school has on offer to students. For example, do they have an after-school club, sports teams, or other activities such as swimming, dancing, music lessons, science clubs, or community outreach programs that kids can take advantage of? You will want to make sure that the school can provide your child with a range of activities that they are already interested in, plus give them opportunities to explore learning something new.
Private schools can be an ideal option if you want a first-class education for your child, but it’s important to make sure first that the school is a good fit for them as a student.