When it comes to educating a child, many parents are curious about the alternative of a Charter School. With so many different opportunities from which to choose, it can feel a bit overwhelming. You want to choose the option that’s best for your child, but what exactly is a charter school? How does it go about the mission of educating the young in a different way from other types of schools, and is it still subject to the same regulations as federally funded public schools? Below, we’ll provide details and information regarding what a charter school is and how it operates to provide an exemplary education for your child.
Intended to Enhance
Charter schools are not private schools, and do not charge tuition. They differ from many alternative schooling options, since they have no specialized requirements for enrollment beyond those already in place for the federal school system. The model for this type of school was developed in the early 1990s, with the specific goal of enhancing the opportunities available to public school students. These schools are run under a specific contract or charter with the federal government, according to the Center for Public Education.
While they are not technically an integrated part of the public school system, they operate along the same basic guidelines the federal government has emplaced to regulate public school performance. What’s different is that they are not bound by the same set of rigid guidelines that traditional schools are. Rather, teachers are empowered to actively engage their students in learning material in the way that best suits each child, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Focus, Pedagogy, and Structure
Charter schools also sometimes feature a unique focus for special students. Rather than simply offering a standard curriculum, they will do so with special emphasis on a particular subject or theme. For example, a particular might be devoted to offering advanced performing arts programs or a rigorous series of technology and computer science courses. This focus would be a key part of their mission statement, in order to draw students who found traditional public school unchallenging or non-relevant.
Another way in which such schools are seeking to enhance the quality of student engagement and learning is by integrating virtual classroom time with that spent in a physical school location. They draw on the expertise of a variety of experienced individuals from all over the world. This allows them to bring a different, more globally relevant note to a child’s education that might be otherwise lacking in a traditional school setting. They can also tailor the learning experience to the strengths of the individual more closely by providing extensive, self-accessed resources in an online learning module. Essentially, the driving idea behind what is already a part of many college curricula is being brought to students at a younger age—the ability to manage, explore, and engage with information at their own pace via their computer.
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While many charter schools tend to perform well above the national average, it’s important that parents not simply assume the options available to them will be better. In some cases, charter schools are not well run or staffed to their full potential. This can lead to a lag in student performance or a misalignment of aptitude and school mission. In many cases, several charter schools will be accessible, so selecting the best fit for a child will be relatively simple. Careful evaluation of the school and its personnel is important before you select an option. The best education and the best educational experience for your child should be the guiding criteria for evaluating a charter school.