The Pros and Cons of Charter Schools

Charter Schools Pros and Cons

Today, there are more than 5,000 charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Despite their considerable rise in the past two decades, the demand for new charter schools still outpaces their availability. Currently, there are close to 2 million children enrolled in charter schools and there are many who are turned away for lack of space. As some states resist the efforts of voucher programs which allow students to attend their choice of public or private school, the charter school has gained in popularity.

But what are charter schools and how do they stack up to traditional public schools?

What are Charter Schools?

The first charter schools were established in the early part of the 1990s as a publicly funded alternative for families that wanted their children outside the traditional public school, but did not have the money or time for private or home schooling.

Charter Schools operate under different rules that public schools in that they can create their own curriculum, grade system, and can hire teachers who do not have teaching certification or a master’s degree. However, charter schools are expected to meet set standards of education or they will lose their charter status. In addition, each state runs their charter school program which usually places caps on the number available along with their funding.

Charter school vs public school performance

However, there are considerable advantages that charter schools offer parents who are not satisfied with what traditional public schools offer.


The benefits that charter schools bring is often very apparent when they are actively seeking students. Because recruitment lies at the heart of survival for charter schools, they will often publicize their best assets during this period of time.

Open to All Students: Just like public schools, charter schools are open to all students including those with special needs. This means that any student can apply to be enrolled in a charter school, but if there are more students than the school can handle they may use a random lottery process for new entries.

Smaller: On average a charter school is less than half the size of its public school counterparts with 200 students compared to 500 students in public schools. This creates a smaller, more community feeling inside the school with less bureaucracy and more students knowing each other.

Academic Focus: Many charter schools are built around the study of one or two subjects such as math, science, or the arts. For the student who has shown an aptitude towards a subject that a charter school emphasizes, it represents a powerful opportunity. In a charter school, the student can gain more of an educational experience in the particular field that they are adept.

Bringing Kids Together: Since charter schools are open to everyone, they bring together children from vastly different backgrounds. This creates a rich, diverse culture from which the kids and parents can really benefit. By pulling everyone together, it provides for a better learning environment.

It can be stated that many charter schools are so successful that they have to turn many potential students away.


Although charter schools offer many advantages, there are some concerns that parents should be aware before entering their child into the system.

–           Pulls Funding from Traditional Public Schools

–           Has Little State Oversight for Finances, Administration, and Academics

–           Pays Teachers Less than Public Schools

–           Higher Staff Turnover Rate

–           Sends Struggling Students to Public Schools

Charter school vs public school facts

Many parents are unhappy that charter schools which because of their smaller size is not available to all students. Plus, they feel that the state should have more oversight over how they run the school itself. In its defense, charter schools must meet pre-set qualifications to keep their license and the state provides the leeway to let them run their own system.

Charter school vs public school salaries

However, issues with pay and the higher turnover rate in charter schools are certainly concerns, although they may not apply to the particular charter school you may send your child. Plus, the ability to send struggling children back to public schools may mean psychological damage from the humiliation. While students who struggle will have feelings of doubt, there is something added in terms of failure that may be very difficult for the child to handle.

Despite being well established across the United States, charter schools are still controversial and opposed by many public school administrators as well as public teachers’ unions.

Charter Schools vs. Public Schools

Comparing charter schools and public schools in general starts with the state in which they are located. In some cases, public schools may equal or even exceed a charter school in terms of delivering a better educational experience. However, in most cases the smaller size of the charter school generally means a better experience for students and teachers.

One consideration is that charter schools are not as transparent in terms of their leadership. Charter school boards are generally chosen from within the organization and not voted upon by the public or held to the same accounting. They do fall under the same standards of performance which means that while accountability may not be on a day-to-day basis, it is found within the results that the charter schools have to meet.

Charter school vs public school cost

For parents who do not have the money for private schools or have the time to teach their children with homeschooling, the question of whether charter schools are the best choice will depend on a number of factors. First, while the statistics reflect the general nature of charter schools in terms of their success, each school will have to be considered by its own merits.

Charter schools must meet standards set by the state, otherwise they get their licenses revoked. So, checking out the charter school is a must before entering your child. One aspect to keep in mind is the emphasis the charter school places on a particular subject. If your child has a similar interest or aptitude, then the school may be a very good fit.

However, if not, then you may want to consider their other merits before making a final decision.

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