What Are The Benefits of a Charter School?
If you’re researching charter schools and considering enrolling your child, you’re not alone. Between the years 2000 and 2017, the total number of U.S. public school students enrolled at charter schools rose from 1 percent to 6 percent. This figure is expected to grow even more as young minds flock to these institutions.
Are you wondering what are the benefits of charter schools? This guide will break down some of the best aspects of a charter school education.
5 Benefits of Charter Schools
While there are numerous aspects to love, here are just five of the advantages of charter schools.
1. They’re Autonomous
Whereas public schools must adhere to all of the school district’s rules and regulations, charter schools do not. Instead, they create their own contract—a “charter”—that they follow. This charter doesn’t mean that the school ignores all state curricula, as many charter schools will incorporate it in some way. It just means that they have autonomy in the choices they make.
This freedom of choice allows charter schools to create specialized programs. A regular public school has to cater to the widest possible audience; a charter school can narrow the scope of its offerings to foster a specific skill or discipline.
Some examples of specializations you might find at charter schools include:
- Fine and performing arts
- Science and technology
- Language immersion
- Post-secondary preparation
If your child has specific interests or you’re looking to expose them to a particular subject, a charter school that uses its autonomy to create a specialized environment could be for you.
2. They Challenge the Traditional Education Model
For some, tradition is a plus; decades of improving upon a model can wield great results. The term “tried and true” exists for a reason, after all. But honoring tradition can quickly lead to sticking to the status quo, leaving innovation behind.
Since they make the rules, charter schools can challenge the education model that public schools rely on. A charter school can leverage new technology to facilitate learning. They can implement experimental policies to see what works best and remove them just as quickly if they don’t work. The red tape that can hinder a public school from evolving is practically non-existent in a charter school, making them hotbeds of creativity and innovation.
3. They Have Smaller Class Sizes
One of the other benefits of a charter school is a smaller class size on average. Many charter schools keep the number of students in a classroom to 25 or less. Compare this figure to the limits laid out by the state of California: the maximum number of students allowed in an early elementary school classroom is 32.
A class with fewer students translates to more one-on-one time with teachers and more space for your kids to ask questions. Reduced class sizes can be especially beneficial for shy or quiet children, as they may find it easier to learn and socialize in a smaller group.
4. They Offer More for Less
Charter schools are publicly funded and have no entrance fees. For that reason, charter schools are sometimes referred to as “the best of both worlds” between private institutions and public schools.
Many of the benefits of private schools—such as smaller class sizes and individualized attention—materialize in charter schools. These perks, however, do not come at a high cost to the parents. Instead, charter schools provide these advantages by managing their funds differently from traditional public schools.
5. They’re Held Accountable
It may sound like charter schools are under less scrutiny than public schools, but in fact, they’re typically held more accountable. That’s because they have to deliver on the charter they’ve created; if they don’t, they can be shut down. Metrics around student performance are often laid out in the charter, and these metrics need to be met.
Remember, charter schools still use public funds, which means they have to answer to the people they get their money from—the government and the taxpayer. Ultimately, charter schools are held accountable by the parents.
Unlike most public schools, charter schools are a choice. That means a school is only as good as its reputation. If a parent finds a charter school’s performance unsatisfactory, they can enroll their child elsewhere. This incentive to keep standards high is yet another form of accountability.
Are Charter Schools Better Than Public Schools?
For anyone looking for an education that focuses on a specific discipline and encourages one-on-one instruction time, charter schools can be an excellent alternative to public schooling.
If you’re hoping to enroll your child, look no further than Ballington Academy. With a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), Ballington Academy is a terrific choice for those looking to expand their educational horizons beyond the ordinary.
National Center for Education Statistics. Charter Schools. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=30
California Department of Education. Class Size Penalties. https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/pa/cefcsp.asp
Forbes. Five Reasons Why Independent Charters Outperform In-District Autonomous Schools. https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilylanghorne/2018/08/23/five-reasons-why-independent-charters-outperform-in-district-autonomous-schools/?sh=c3d6bd3759da