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As my husband and I created our wish list for our house hunt, one major must-have for me was good schools. Of course, I’m not the only one with this item in their wish list. The higher home prices in areas with good public schools are proof of this.

However, I’m only talking about traditional public schools. You also have the option of enrolling your kids in private schools, charter schools or even homeschooling. By doing this, you may be able to expand the areas you’ve been looking into and get more house for your buck.

It seems that, lately, I’ve seen an increase in the popularity of charter schools. But, how do you determine if a charter school is the right option for your child?

What are Charter Schools? How are Charter Schools Funded?

First, let me give you a short definition of charter school. A charter school is an independent public school that operates independently from the traditional public school system. The parents, teachers, community leaders, and those involved in the opening of the school, create a charter plan describing the school’s mission, principles, structure and performance measures. Then if the state approves the charter school’s plan, the state funds the charter on a per-pupil basis.

Advantages of Charter Schools

  • They have the independence of using their own ways of teaching.
  • They have greater accountability. If they don’t perform and keep families and the community happy, their enrollment numbers may go down and they could lose their charter status or simply close due to lack of students.
  • They don’t have to follow government regulations – this is an advantage because they don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy of traditional schools.
  • They may be able to attract more donations to support specific causes and programs.

Disadvantages of Charter Schools

  • They may have strict admission requirements that may discourage certain students from applying.
  • They sometimes require that parents cover transportation costs.
  • They may have less-than-optimal facilities and resources. This is especially true for newly opened charter schools.
  • They don’t have to follow government regulations – again, this one is both an advantage and disadvantage. It’s a disadvantage because some charter schools may avoid important standards, such as teacher certification.

Hopefully this information is helpful as you research school options for your kids, or future kids.

Do you have experience with charter schools? Tell us about it!

To find charter schools in your area, check out this list of charter school organizations listed by state.


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This Post Has 8 Comments

    1. Hi Janet:

      It’s not really possible to give you qualifications for children, because those are set by each individual charter school. Sorry.

    2. I wish more people were educated about the dangers of charter schools. Charter schools care a lot about how your child performs on standardized tests. If they do not perform well on these tests it could jeopardize their continuance and they could potentially be shut down. If your child is not performing well in the class this can mean a lot of things. Parents will be brought in and will be told and coerced into doing certain things in order to help their child improve. The children in the school that I worked in were humiliated if they were not performing to a certain level. The top children were given parties and prizes and the rest of the children were left in the classroom. Some would cry and feel sad because they knew they were not being rewarded for their performance. Parents would complain and ask to pick those children up early and the administration would not assist them in this. I was told as a teacher to keep my mouth shut and not accommodate those parents that wanted to pick up their children so their children could be spared the humiliation. I then found out that this happens in a lot of other Charter Schools too. Charter school pay for teachers is much lower than public schools. They are not transparent at all with their staff. This means that they will not tell you how much work is truly required. Teachers in my school were expected to give up their lunch break and were not given periods to prepare as teachers are given in public schools. In order to prepare for the following week I would have to give up three quarters of every single weekend. And during vacations when we were expecting to celebrate holidays we were actually given homework. Yes, the academic coaches actually assigns the teachers homework. I remember taking some of the homework on the airplane with me on my way to Florida. Unbelievable! There is no contract so they can treat you in any way they want. There is nothing you can do about this. There is no Union and you are an at-will employee. This means they can fire you at any time. In the school that I worked in the the other schools that were affiliated with us , there were multiple teachers every year that would disappear because they couldn’t keep up with the workload and were being horribly mistreated by the administration. Parents would ask, complain and wonder what happened to these teachers and they were never given an explanation. It is a horrible environment to work in. It is stressful and many people that work there have not only no certification to teach but some of them don’t even have college degrees. I remember going to a luncheon with all the faculty staff of my charter school and I remember one of the administrators got up and complained that he didn’t want his child going to school with white people so he was happy to bring him to our charter school which was predominantly African-American and Hispanic. Anything goes in these organizations. They are completely lacking in sports programs music programs and any other kind of extracurricular programs. The entire school day is about teaching to the test preparing for standardized testing and even subjects like science and social studies are prepared by staff that have no certification and no higher education. Working at a charter school was the biggest mistake I ever made. I still have many friends that work there and they are all trying to get out but there are so few jobs on Long Island. The sad part in all of this is that the mistreatment and stress that the faculty and staff experience trickle-down and truly affect the students as well. This is not the kind of environment that any child should be exposed to.

  1. Charter schools do NOT require parents to pay for transportation. I work for a charter, and our largest budget is bus transportation. And parents pay nothing.

    1. Hi Troy:

      It makes sense that this is the kind of thing that could be different depending on the locality. We’ve modified that bullet point. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Superb post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Bless you!

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