"I expect there will be more public charter schools."

Betsy DeVos

The Pros and Cons of Charter Schools

advantages and disadvantages of charter schools

Charter schools are a special sort of schools which receive funding by the government, but operate rather independently according to their respective charter.

 

However, they are still held accountable and also have to assure certain quality standards.

 

Even though charter schools have some advantages, sending your kid to charter school also implies serious issues. In this blog post, the pros and cons of charter schools are examined.

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Advantages of Charter Schools

  1. Individual learning assistance for children
  2. Higher level of flexibility
  3. Special focus on specific goals
  4. Often smaller number of students
  5. Smaller class sizes
  6. Community feeling
  7. Better chance to get into top colleges
  8. Higher involvement of parents
  9. Excellent learning results of students
  10. Charter schools encourage innovations
  11. Often supported by successful people
  12. May meet the needs of minorities
  13. Already accepted by the majority of the population
  14. Sophisticated alternative teaching approaches
  15. Feeling of freedom of choice
  16. No tuition for charter schools
  17. Virtual charter schools may increase flexibility even more

Individual learning assistance for children

Since charter schools are rather independent from the curriculum that is set by the state for public schools, teachers in charter schools can provide a more custom-fit learning experience for their students.

 

If students have difficulties in one specific area, teachers could focus on this area and create individual learning plans in order to improve the knowledge in the respective area.

 

Thus, since teachers in charter schools have a high level of freedom regarding their teaching practices, it is likely that the weaknesses of children in specific subjects can be detected and eliminated more efficiently compared to conventional public schools.

 

Higher level of flexibility

In general, teachers and pupils in charter schools will have more flexibility regarding their schedule and their focus of study. While in public schools, the curriculum is often quite strict and specified through official institutions, charter schools can design their curriculum according to the preferences of scholars in a specific region.

 

Special focus on specific goals

Charter schools are also known to target specific goals. For instance, while some charter schools may focus on natural sciences, others may rather focus on linguistic sciences.

 

Students could choose between those different options in line with their individual preferences. For instance, say your goal is to attend a top university and to study physics.

 

Thus, a charter school that focuses on this subject may be much more suitable for you compared to a public school with a more general education.

 

Therefore, charter schools could provide a better education in specific fields and therefore also give students a better education in specific areas.

 

Often smaller number of students

Since the total number of students in a charter school is often much lower compared to public schools, there is often a more private feeling and the connection between students is often closer than in public schools since they interact with each other more often.

 

Thus, students may also be able to create strong connections to each other, which may turn into friendships or even into serious career opportunities through a strong network once they turn into grownups.

 

Smaller class sizes

Charter schools often also have smaller class sizes, which allows for a more individual treatment of children. For instance, if there are too many students in one class, the teacher will likely not be able to answer all questions since there is simply not enough time to do so. However, with smaller classes, there will be more time to answer individual questions and the learning success tends to be higher due to that.

 

Community feeling

Due to the lower number of students and the smaller class sizes, students also often have a strong feeling of community in charter schools. This leads to a state where students are quite eager to attend school in order to see their school friends again.

 

Thus, while students may not be too keen on attending school, the motivation for kids to attend charter school may be higher due to the strong feeling of community and coherence.

 

Better chance to get into top colleges

Studies have shown that kids who attend charter schools will have a higher chance to get into top universities afterwards. This might be due to the fact that charter schools are more flexible and can design their curriculum according to the individual preferences of students.

 

It might also be due to the fact that smaller class sizes allow for a more individual treatment of students. Anyways, better chances for students to get into top colleges may be a strong argument for parents to decide for charter schools and against other forms of school.

 

Higher involvement of parents

While in many public schools, parents are rather left out of discussions regarding the curriculum and the learning process of children, parents are even encouraged to take part in those discussions in charter schools.

 

Charter schools consider parents’ opinions as a crucial part in order to fulfill the needs for sophisticated education and parents can actively express their wishes and preferences.

 

Thus, parents may also have a better opportunity to influence how their kids are educated in charter schools compared to public schools.

 

Excellent learning results of students

Studies have shown that the learning results in charter schools are much better on average compared to public schools. This may be due to the fact that students have a higher level of freedom in charter schools and do not feel the pressure to fit in to a certain rigid standard. Due to that, they might be more willing to attend school and to learn compared to students that have to obey the strict curriculum of public schools.

Charter schools encourage innovations

Another advantage of charter schools is that they encourage innovations. Since they have a higher level of flexibility regarding their schedule, kids also have a higher level of flexibility to develop new things. For instance, some courses in charter schools may encourage children to think out of the box.

 

Generally, if you give students this kind of freedom, you will notice that they come up with many impressing ideas which can lead to quite helpful innovations in the long run once they grow up. Some students may even turn those innovations into serious businesses.

 

Often supported by successful people

There are also some billionaires which are quite convinced of the teaching methods in charter schools. Those people provide plenty of financial support for charter schools. Of course, they wouldn’t do that if they thought charter schools were a waste of money. Thus, if many successful people think that charter schools have their merits, they might actually really have! 😉

 

May meet the needs of minorities

Since charter schools have a higher level of independence compared to public schools, they can also better address the needs of minorities.

 

For instance, in some areas where there is a high level of minorities, charter schools could focus on subjects that are in line with the preferences of minorities.

 

For example, this could mean improving the language skills of those students in order to provide them with better job opportunities afterwards.

 

Already accepted by the majority of the population

Since the academic results as well as the future prospects of students who attend charter schools are generally quite good, charter schools have gained a high level of reputation among the general public. Many parents are now quite eager to send their kids to charter schools since they realized the merits of this form of school.

 

Sophisticated alternative teaching approaches

Since teachers and students are encouraged to think out of the box in charter schools, many alternative teaching methods are tried and the best of them are implemented in the long run.

 

Thus, by trying different things and using the teaching methods that work best, charter schools are better able to develop long-term success compared to public schools which have to comply with quite rigid teaching approaches.

 

Feeling of freedom of choice

Since teachers as well as children will have a higher level of freedom regarding learning methods in charter schools, students may also be more eager to learn since they will not feel forced to learn. Instead, they may rather see the opportunity to try out new things and may actually enjoy the learning process much more due to that. Thus, a higher level of freedom may also increase the overall motivation of students in charter schools.

 

No tuition for charter schools

Another advantage of charter schools is that the most often do not require parents to pay tuition since they are funded by the government. Thus, this is especially beneficial for students that come from poor families since they might often not be able to pay the tuition fees for private schools. Thus, charter schools can also be great for students and families from a financial standpoint.

 

Virtual charter schools may increase flexibility even more

Over the last years, even private charter schools had been founded. Through those schools, the level of flexibility of students further increases since they can learn from home instead of attending school in physical form. Thus, charter schools may also improve the technological knowledge and the virtual skills of students and may also give families a higher flexibility regarding their schedule.

Problems of Charter Schools

  1. Some children may not be suitable for charter schools
  2. May be hard to get in
  3. Charter schools significantly vary in quality
  4. Level of freedom depends on the respective state or region
  5. Parents may have to volunteer
  6. Fundraising may be necessary
  7. May be more exhausting for children
  8. Diversity may suffer in charter schools
  9. Plenty of activities may require lot of organizational work
  10. Inefficient use of funds and donations
  11. Financed mainly by taxpayers’ money
  12. May be an unfair competition for public schools
  13. Massive workload for teachers

Some children may not be suitable for charter schools

Even though charter schools have many advantages, there are also some issues related to them. One downside of charter schools is that they may not be suitable for all students.

 

Since the curriculum of charter schools is often targeted to a specific audience, students who are not part of this audience may be better off attending public or private schools instead. Moreover, some school pupils may also not like the alternative character of charter schools.

 

Thus, before you decide to send your children to charter school, make sure to take a look at the curriculum and also get a personal impression of the school and the staff in order to ensure that the school will be suitable for your children regarding their preferences.

 

May be hard to get in

Some charter schools may also get a high number of applications. Thus, especially for good schools, it may be quite hard to get in and you might have to get on a waiting list.

 

For some schools, you might have to wait many months or even years until your children are able to attend those charter schools.

 

Thus, especially if you don’t want to wait, charter schools may not be the right way to go and you should send your kids to public or private schools instead.

 

Charter schools significantly vary in quality

Even though many charter schools have an excellent reputation, there are also some bad ones out there and the quality of charter schools varies significantly, similar to the quality of other kinds of schools. Thus, before choosing a charter school, make sure to check out reviews and also ask your family and friends in order to ensure a high education quality for your children.

 

Level of freedom depends on the respective state or region

Although charter schools are generally more independent compared to public schools, the level of independence greatly varies across states and regions.

 

For instance, some regions may be much stricter regarding the curriculum than others and the level of freedom of some charter schools may be confined due to that.

 

Thus, make sure to figure out how the educational framework is set up in your local area in order to decide whether sending your kids to charter school makes sense for you or not.

 

Parents may have to volunteer

Another disadvantage of charter schools is that parents may have to volunteer in school. This may take plenty of time and some parents, especially if they work in demanding jobs, may not have time for this kind of volunteering. Therefore, make sure to check out the rules of your local charter school regarding the need for volunteering, especially if you are not willing to join those volunteering activities.

 

Fundraising may be necessary

Although charter schools are funded by the government, there might be the need for additional funding regarding certain projects or for sophisticated equipment. Thus, parents may also have to engage in fundraising activities in order to ensure a good education for their kids. Therefore, if you are not willing to engage in this kind of activities, charter schools might not be the way to go for you.

May be more exhausting for children

Since there are plenty of activities in charter schools, many charter schools require children to stay in school the whole day. Thus, this may also imply that there is less time to meet with friends outside of school and for sports and other things kids love to do. Therefore, make sure that your children are ok with this strict timetable before sending them to charter schools.

 

Diversity may suffer in charter schools

Since many charter schools target specific audiences and are focused on certain educational areas, the level of diversity may significantly suffer due to that. Children will meet mostly children who have similar interests. However, for a health development, it might also be beneficial to meet children with other interests in order to enlarge the horizon of children so they can develop in certain different directions.

 

Plenty of activities may require lot of organizational work

It may also be quite challenging for parents to organize their daily life if they send their kids to charter school. Since there are so many activities in those schools, parents need a pretty good timing to ensure that their kids are able to attend all of them. This might be quite difficult, especially when it comes to parents who have a quite demanding job and work long hours on a regular basis.

 

Inefficient use of funds and donations

Since charter schools often get large amounts of money through donations and fundraising, they often also use this money quite inefficiently and corruptive actions may lead to a state where plenty of money is wasted for projects that have just little or no benefits at all. Thus, if there is not sufficient supervision regarding the spending in charter schools, chances are that large amounts of money are used in a rather inefficient manner.

 

Financed mainly by taxpayers’ money

Since a large part of the funding for charter schools comes from the government, charter schools are indirectly financed by the taxpayer. This could be regarded to be as unfair by some people since they claim that they have to pay for their kids’ education in private schools while other kids get a good education in charter schools for free. Thus, the funding scheme for charter schools may lead to plenty of discussions.

 

May be an unfair competition for public schools

Since charter schools often have much more money due to donations compared to public schools, public schools often lose their best students to charter schools since they are simply not able to compete with the financial opportunities and the quality of equipment of charter schools. Thus, charter schools can be regarded to be an unfair competitor in the education market.

 

Massive workload for teachers

Charter schools are also known to be quite exhausting for teachers. They often have to work quite long hours and are not compensated sufficiently. Thus, also from the perspective of teachers, charter schools may not offer fair labor conditions and good teachers might not be willing to work in a charter school due to those adverse conditions.

Charter School Pros & Cons - Summary List

Charter School Pros

Individual learning

Community feeling

Smaller classes

Higher flexibility

Alternative teaching methods

Feeling of freedom

No tuition

Better chance to get into top universities

Good learning results

Special focus

Charter School Cons

Waiting lists

May not be suitable for some children

Parents need to be engaged more

Fundraising might be necessary

High workload for teachers

Varying quality of charter schools

Partly financed by taxpayers

Inefficient use of funds

Level of freedom dependent on region

Need for parents to volunteer


Should I send my kids to charter school?

In order to answer this question, you have to figure out what you really want for your kid. If you want an environment with a high level of educational flexibility instead of a rigid curriculum, charter schools may be the way to go.

 

However, make sure to evaluate all the pros and cons in order to be able to make a profound decision for your kids. Only then will you be able to provide your kids with the best education they can possibly get.

Sources

About the author

 

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

 

As I went to university and got my Master's degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

 

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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