Five Advantages of Charter Schools
- Autonomy and Independence
- Diverse Populations
- Smaller Class Sizes
- Great Accountability
While there are pros and cons for being a charter school student, what are the advantages of being a charter school? There are many differences between public schools and charters, and there is a lot of dissension among teachers and administrators of both institutions. Part of this stems from competition for federal funding. To settle the controversy, many studies have been done on the effectiveness and fairness of charter schools. Here are five advantages that charter schools have over public institutions.
Autonomy and Independence
While charter schools are responsible to the district that grants their charters for meeting standards, they are not bound by the same restrictions and regulations on curriculum that public district schools must follow. That means a charter school can choose its own teaching methods and set its own goals. Charter schools that do not meet the district standards as evidenced by poor scores on student assessments can be dissolved.
There was much criticism of charter schools when the movement started because critics believed they would cater to wealthy homogenous student populations. The reverse has proved true. While public schools mirror the communities where they operate, charter schools are composed of all ethnic and economic groups. They have a large proportion of poor students and of black students. An article in Forbes Magazine said that the charters have proven more effective than the public schools in providing quality education to these groups. With the diversity of students, charter schools are able to offer students a global and multicultural environment.
Smaller Class Sizes
Charter schools usually have smaller student populations than do their public counterparts, and that leads to smaller classes and more individual attention. Charter schools receive more support from donors in addition to federal funding and can afford to be innovative. Additionally, they may have better resources such as laboratories, technology and opportunities for field trips and out-of-class experiences.
Because charter schools do not have to adhere to a district standard in curriculum, they are free to specialize. That is, while they offer a broad education, many classes are tailored to fit the school personality. Charter schools that have a theater specialization may offer plays and productions that augment basic English or math classes, for instance. The school may specialize in STEM programs and offer all classes through technology-based learning.
Accountability might seem like a disadvantage, but it is a great motivator for schools to maintain high performance standards. Charter school education may be seen as a product with students and their parents as the consumers. Schools that fall below the expectation of their “consumers” will find that the people using their services will go elsewhere. If the school becomes financially unviable, it will close.
Related Resource: Top 20 Gifted and Talented Education Master’s Online
Much of the criticism of charter schools comes from the fact that public schools must contend for the same funding and see charter schools as interlopers. While the results of standardized testing for children from public schools and from charters seem to be nearly equal, charter schools have an advantage in being able to decide how they will deliver education to their students. The charters also have the advantage of beginning with students and parents who have chosen to be there instead of being sent to a designated district school. That choice, for both the school and its students, is the main advantage to a facility organizing as a charter school.