Charter schools are publicly funded and charted by organizations other than local school districts. Charters provide free education and, like public schools, cannot discriminate by race, gender, religion or habitat. They do have open admission policies, and they are not private schools where students are accepted or rejected depending on test scores, student and family interviews, ability to pay, and general “fit” with the school. Charter schools do have a lottery system for admissions, which means not all children can be enrolled in a charter school, and like private schools they do have school uniforms.
The most recent data released by the National Center for Education Statistics or NCES estimates that there were 6,747 charter schools in the United in 2014-15 and 6,855 in 2015-16. In 2015-16 the proportion of charter schools to public schools was 7%, an increase from the statistics in 2000-01.
NCES also states that more than 28 million students attended charter schools in 2015-16, which is close to 6% of all public school students. This figure shows that charter schools grew more than 70 percent from 2009-10 to 2015-16.
Charter schools operate off the formula of autonomy accountability, diversity of learning models, choice and operation by nonprofits are reasons parents send their students to charter schools. It has been proven that in states with strong charter laws, charter schools have produced students with impressive educational and social gains and especially in schools with high-minority, high poverty populations.
The past 15 years have seen rapid growth in the number of charter schools. The reasons may be that charter schools are free from many of the stifling rules that constrain public schools, charters are schools of choice, and students enjoy the classy uniforms like American Preparatory Academy uniforms.
Discussing her reasons for sending her children to a charter school, one parent listed the following ideas:
True Autonomy (self-rule and decision making). You may not think that autonomy is important, but charter school leaders have autonomy or can determine their school models, curriculum, budgeting, staff, and schedules. Charter schools can create educational models that work best for their students.
Charter schools are schools of choice. The parent who was interviewed for this article stated that she chose a charter school because they have specific education models and cultures. Multiple learning models of charter schools allow parents to choose the charter that fits the needs of their children.
Charter schools are held accountable to a higher degree of student performance. Most elected school boards rarely close or replace failing schools. It’s all political. Unionized teachers may initiate district-wide protests over school closings and changes. Meaning – they can strike and interrupt valuable education. Charter schools are not unionized and answer to the authorizers that have appointed, not elected boards. When an appointed board closes a charter, they have good reasons. It may trigger a protest from that school, but not from all the teachers in a district, and a whole school district is not disrupted.
Charters go through a careful authorization process. Authorizers investigate charter operators before allowing that school to open. Parents cannot assess individual charter schools, so authorizers ensure that the charter school is of high quality.
Independent Charter Sectors are Sustainable. Independent charters operate outside of school districts, and it takes a change in state law rather than district leadership to change a charter’s autonomy.
Uniforms Keep Students on an Equal Footing. It is less expensive to shop for school clothes when the school requires uniforms. No having to decide what to wear saves time, and school uniforms foster school spirit. American Preparatory Academy uniforms give students several different choices, and when worn to school, the student looks “pulled together.”
When students wear uniforms to school, and especially American Preparatory Academy uniforms, the unhealthy competition that exists between students is eliminated. School uniforms decrease bullying. No one stands out, so students tend not to get bullied.
The curriculum is quality. Charter schools have the freedom to develop quality curriculum. As a note, more and more charter school curriculum is being shared with public schools and the quality of education may quickly improve.
Charter schools receive government funding even though they operate independently of established state school systems. The ideals expressed by charter schools foster education. More and more parents are recognizing the value of a charter school and are enrolling their children in charter schools. Check out the great example that American Preparatory Academy has developed. Students here love their school, they respect their teachers and the administration, and they are eager to learn. After all, isn’t that what school is all about – learning?