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The pros and cons of sending your child to a charter school

Kia Morgan Smith is a popular mommy blogger at Cincomom.com where she blogs about her life as a mom of five children and wife.

Charter schools face fewer rules and regulations than typical public schools because the charter allows for a different approach to education and how students are taught.

These last few months have been a whirlwind since I decided, after eight years of successfully working from home, to put my master's degree in education back to use as a teacher at a charter school.

I worked at People for People Charter School in Philadelphia years ago, and that's where I fostered a love for charter schools. There is much more flexibility to actually teach, infuse more classroom collaborative projects into the mix and allow students to learn by doing instead of barking out content simply for them to memorize.

And there are plenty of charter schools to choose from, those that specialize in math and science or the arts and many that cater to crafting scholars on an accelerated academic track or offer a curriculum with a global approach.

Parents do need to realize that charter schools are still public schools and not private schools with a twist. This is important because charter schools are held responsible for academic results and for staying true to the promises made in their charters. They must exhibit strong performance in the areas of academic achievement, financial management and organizational stability. If a charter school does not meet performance goals, then it may be closed.

The first public charter school was in Minnesota in 1991, and since then more than 1,600 schools have cropped up across 16 states. Charter schools face fewer rules and regulations than typical public schools because the charter allows for a different approach to education and how students are taught.

Pros

  • Expect to walk into charter schools and see a more creative environment which encourages a unique and positive learning experience.
  • Charter schools are allowed and encouraged to get outside funding from local businesses. This is great because it creates community and business partnerships which present endless opportunities such as field trip sponsors, corporate support and volunteers, etc.
  • They function heavily off of parent involvement and encourage or require parents to commit more than public school. It becomes more like a stockholder position.
  • Teachers have freedom to teach while typically public schools are more test-focused.
  • Strong parental involvement builds a community that's vested in seeing a child succeed.

Cons

  • The charter has to be renewed every few years. If the school doesn't measure up to what it promised and students are not performing above what other students are doing in regular public school, then the charter could be revoked.
  • There are more things that parents have to cover such as transportation, extra school supplies and they must even help the teacher with classroom needs.
  • They tend to have older facilities because they are responsible for securing their own building. These facilities tend to be affordable yet there could be less space for technology, a library, a physical education facility and other things that are usually in a traditional public school.
  • Strong parental involvement can also be a detriment and breed bullying of teachers and administrators, and disrupt what the school is trying to achieve.
  • They do not follow a bureaucracy as do traditional public schools, which can be a disadvantage when it comes to preparing to meet core standards for testing.

Every child deserves a unique and challenging education and charter schools are leading the way with excellent educational offerings.

Photo credit: Tetra Images/Jamie Grill/Getty Images
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