It is the desire of every parent to take their children to a school where they will get the best education and a solid ethical and moral foundation for their future. With the overwhelming sphere of school choice, parents often tend to be confused on how to decide the type of school that is right for their children.
There are public, charters, and private schools all showcasing their strengths and why they offer the best education on the land. To compound on this, there are a number of research studies that have been independently done some of them showing preference for one type of school against the other while others are indifferent.
The debate on a charter high school vs. public high school: which one is preferable for your kids? has been raging on with different parties taking sides depending on where they want their weight to be felt.
The discussion below focuses on some of the points that have been subjects of studies with an aim to dissect and lay bare the truth about charter high schools and their public counterparts.
What is a Charter High School?
By definition, a charter school refers to an independently managed public school which has been granted lots of room and flexibility in its operations in exchange for enhanced accountability for performance. The charter that establishes every school takes the form of a performance contract detailing the mission, programs, performance goals, students served, and the means of assessment.
Charter schools have always been interpreted as public schools of choice where parents voluntarily and consciously take their children. These schools are run with freedom and some of the regulations imposed on public high schools do not apply to them. Among the expectations demanded from these schools as per their respective charters are sound financial management, stellar academic achievement, and organization flexibility. If the school does not meet the stipulated performance goals, it risks closure.
Why Choose a Charter School Over Public School
Depending on which side of the charter high school vs. public high school: which one is preferable for your kids? Debate you are in, you may favor one form of school to the other. This notwithstanding, there are key principles that set charter high schools apart from public high schools.
Freedom of Choice – Charter high schools give parents and guardians an opportunity to choose a school that suits their children well-being and education preferences. Teachers on the other hand, choose to work at institutions where their impact in shaping the learning environment is strongly felt and likely to have great results in their students. Additionally, charter authorizers choose schools which are likely to serve well the needs of children in a given community. This is reason enough for success of charter schools.
A High Degree of Accountability – As pointed out earlier, charter schools are judged based on how well they meet the goals outlined in the charter that established them. The increased demand for sound fiscal and managerial accountability makes these schools conscious of the need to preform above par.
Freedom from Red Tape – Inasmuch as charter high schools are expected to adhere to certain laws and regulations just like the public schools, they are often freed from the red tape accused of diverting schools resources and energy away from the central goal of educational excellence. This makes charter schools strive for high academic standards and moral development.
Innovative Programs – Charter high schools have fundamental programs that focus on the basics of education, such as writing, reading, enhanced focus on the traditional subject students struggle with, as well as dropout prevention programs, online programs, and adult education programs.
Charter Vs Public School Performance
Independent studies carried out between 2010 and 2013 revealed that students attending charter high schools tend to perform better academically than their public high school peers. One such study is the 2013 CREDO National Study, which concluded that students in charter schools outperformed their peers in public schools.
Another 2011 meta-analysis by University of California, San Diego researchers revealed that the impact of charter high schools on students’ performance is stronger in math and elementary reading, urban high school reading, and middle school math.
Because of the aspect of accountability in charter high schools, the management and teaching staffs work extra hard to improve student achievement. Whether this is done out of fear of charter violation and the risk of closure or real passion for the children’s future is a fact most studies could not establish, but the end justifies the means.
A study done by the National Alliance found that close to 200 charter high schools which were open in the 2012-13 academic year closed shop in the following school year due to a number of reasons among the low academic performance, financial concerns and low enrollment. This closure is enough evidence to suggest that charter high schools operate on a model that is performance oriented and never tolerates sub-par education.
Are Charter Schools Privately Owned?
No. charter high schools as defined in the federal and state law are categorized as public schools. They are subject to the same academic standards all other public high schools are to meet including non-sectarian and non-discrimination, public funding from the local, state and federal governments on the basis of enrollment, as well as accountability for meeting various state and federal academic standards. The only difference between charter high schools and public high schools is that the former are required to have a greater accountability for the funding they receive from the state.
Charter Vs Public School Teacher Salary
Due to their freedom from many of the regulations and constraints governing hiring, firing and paying of teachers witnessed in public high schools; charter high schools have much greater latitude in compensation practices. Some charter high schools use a salary schedule that is different from that used in public high schools and is based on parameters tied to the overall performance expected of these schools according to the charter.
In a study done in 2000, almost 50% of charter high schools admitted using performance or merit-based pay. The base salary in charter schools is only used as guidance, but the bonuses and incentives paid far exceed what the public school teachers earn.
Based on the above detailed analysis on the different parameters and principles guiding charter schools compared to public high schools, it is safe to conclude that the answer to the dilemma faced by parents at charter high school vs. public high school: which one is preferable for your kids? favors charter high schools.