Parents always want to know their children are getting the best possible education and parents living in larger cities who can’t afford private school often wonder, “What is the difference between a public school and a charter school?”. As similar as public schools are to charter schools, they are also equally different. Here is an overview of public and charter schools so readers can see the difference and make an informed decision about their child’s education.
Public schools do not have an application process because they’re are open to all students living in that district or city. Law requires that public schools open their doors to any student living in that district. However, students may not necessarily get to go to the public school of their choice if it’s a large city that has more than one public school. Some public schools may use a student’s test scores to determine eligibility if there are too many students in that district. Charter schools may require students to fill out an application but not take an entrance exam.
Public schools and charter schools are both free. Public schools get most of their funding from the state government, government agencies and through local taxes. Charter schools are also government funding but are typically funded on a per-student basis. Charter schools also get their funding from for-profit organizations. They also do fundraising to raise money to keep the school open and operational. Charter schools generally get less funding than public schools. Although public and charter schools are both dependent on funding, this cost is not put on the student.
The curriculum at a charter school is more flexible than at a public school. However, charter schools are held accountable for their performance. If the students’ academic performance doesn’t meet certain criteria, it can affect the amount of funding the charter school gets. As long as the students perform well overall, the charter school has more flexibility and options regarding the curriculum it offers the students.
The curriculum at a public school must meet the state guidelines. The district in which each public school is located is in charge of implementing the curriculum, but it still must meet the state’s guidelines. Whereas public schools must be accountable to the state, charter schools are held more accountable to the charter members in that school district.
Teachers in public schools are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in education and certification through that state’s education board. The teacher is usually certified in the area in which he or she hopes to teach. The more certifications the teacher has, the more valuable that teacher is to that public school or any school in that district. Teacher requirements for charter schools may vary from state to state, and certification is not always required for charter school teachers.
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Deciding which school in which to send a child or children can be a big decision. Remember that how well the child learns says a lot about the school they attend and teachers that are in charge. GreatSchools.org suggests that parents should visit any school they are considering sending their children. They’ll not only be able to see the difference between a public school and a charter school firsthand but will be able to meet with faculty and get a feel of what it would be like to attend that particular school.