What is a charter school?
A charter school is a publicly funded school that is established through a contract, generally with the state or local school board. A charter establishes the school’s mission, academic program, goals, students served, how the school will measure success, as well as the length of time the school will receive public support. A charter school offers parents and students more choices because it operates independently from the public school system. It is its own school, similar to a private school in some respects, however it is a publicly funded school. Moreover, unlike private schools, a charter school can be closed if it does not produce the desired results of the charter
Why are parents choosing charter schools?
Many parents are choosing charter schools as an alternative to public schools. Perhaps they would like their children to attend a less traditional private school but cannot afford the tuition or do not want to send their child to a faith-based school. Charter schools give families the opportunity to have a choice in their children’s education. Charter schools often have smaller classrooms and may use a more creative approach to learning. Parents in traditional public schools have no choice about what teaching philosophies or what curriculum is used with their children. By having more than one option parents can take a look at what the school is teaching, their educational plans and philosophies, and actually have a choice about what and how their children are being taught.
Disadvantages of charter schools
Opponents to charter schools argue that charter schools take away funds from the public schools. They also question the stability of charter schools. Several charter schools have opened and later closed due to poor management or financial problems. Some charter schools last only a few years. Also charter schools are often not available for middle school or high school students. This may be a concern for some, as the child will not be able to continue in the same schooling environment.
Which states have charter schools?
As of 2004, 42 states, including the District of Columbia, have passed charter school laws. The states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Of these forty-two, 38 states currently have charter schools. There are no charter schools open yet in Iowa, Tennessee, Washington, or Maryland (source: http://www.uscharterschools.org/pub/uscs_docs/o/faq.html)