History, Characteristics and Advantages of Charter Schools in the USA

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Charter schools represent a rapidly growing segment of publicly funded but independently operating schools on the elementary and secondary levels. To be approved by the government, they have to receive a license or a charter and this is where their name comes from. Such schools are often established by parents or the community and they are also run by the community they belong to.

The charter schools model originated in the United States, but this is not the only country where they exist today. They can be also found in other countries across the globe, mainly in Europe, Asia and Latin America. See the list of all countries where these schools operate.

History of charter schools in the USA

In the United States, the first schools of this kind were established in the early 1990s, as a result of the call for the reform of the public schools. The main figure behind the origins of these schools was a university professor, Ray Budde, alongside Albert Shanke, who served as President of the American Federation of Teachers at that time. The very first school opened in Minnesota in 1991, followed by another one opened in California just a year later.

Today, there are nearly seven thousand such schools in the majority of the states. There are over three million students who study in these schools all across the country. Multiple schools in the same district, county of state may be united under the same corporation. Places for potential students are allocated by lottery.

Main features of charter schools

The main difference between the public schools and the charter schools is the level of independence: the charter schools are void of most state and local district rules and regulations. In exchange for this autonomy, they are responsible for their academic and financial performance. If the school fails to achieve the goals set forth in its charter, it may be revoked or not renewed and subject to review.

Funding for these schools is mainly provided by the State based on the students who enrolled in the school that year. The charter schools have their total and absolute freedom when managing their funds. Although the State finances the entire budget of these schools, they may also have other types of income, such as donations from third parties.

The main objective of these schools is to respond to the different needs and interests of the community where the school is located. If it was not so, the community would cease its support of the school and this would then result in the non-enrollment of the students.

Many of these schools were created primarily to serve the needs of underserved populations. Some schools contract with companies so that they provide some type of specific educational service such as a laboratory, computers, etc., while others contract with these companies to carry out the entire educational service.

Teachers who work in this type of school are not affected by their curriculum in reference to seniority since it will continue to increase even if they are in this type of school. The teacher is allowed to choose either the traditional or any other methodology, according to his personal preference. Decisions about work, salary, agreements, bonuses, assignment of tasks, etc., are made by all the staff that makes up the center.

Advantages and disadvantages of charter schools

There are many advantages: generally, these schools tend to be smaller in the total number of students and in the class size. They tend to have a more family atmosphere, with highly qualified teachers who are not afraid to try new things and different ways of teaching their pupils. All these features also result in fewer discipline problems with the pupils and thus lead to a more enjoyable, but also more successful education process. More on the advantages of charter schools: https://nypost.com/2017/08/26/the-most-important-benefit-of-charter-schools/

On the other hand, the opponents of these schools claim that they are less diverse, with fewer sport and extracurricular activities. They use a lottery for pupils to join and don’t work with disabled students. Likewise, the existence of such school is never guaranteed as it can fail to attract the students in some school districts and thus it always risks getting closed.