Also referred to as “school choice” or “privatization” of education, the rapid expansion and funding of charter schools is part of the education reform agenda.
Charter schools have been in existence since 1988. The original concept was to create smaller learning environments where new ideas and programs could be tested before implementing them on a larger scale. Today, many charter schools are being used to move funding away from traditional public schools and often into the hands of private, for-profit corporations. Even though many charter schools are non-profit, they funnel money to for-profit entities through management companies and other vendor relationships. These for-profits are often heavily affiliated with politicians. Many public education supporters are concerned that this model misuses public tax dollars because the schools do not have as many regulations or accountability as traditional public schools.
Contrary to what some think, charter schools are public schools. Because they are publicly funded, they are required to use the Florida Standards and the same high-stakes standardized tests that all public schools use. The difference is in the way they operate. They have less restrictions for admissions decisions (traditional public schools are required to accept all students; charter schools are often selective of their student population) and less transparency about their management and operations.
Questions to ask when considering a charter school for your child:
Every parent must do what is best for their child, and some charter schools do provide opportunities for children to thrive. The following might assist you if you are considering a charter school.
- What company or entity is managing the school? Once you find out, research the company and see if they have had any past issues with mismanagement or financial problems.
- Who is on the Board of Directors? What decisions do they make about the school? What is their educational experience/background? Are any of them politicians, or do they have ties to politicians? Are board meetings open to parents?
- What are the admissions requirements? What information is needed about the student prior to enrollment? Any information that is required prior to enrollment can be used to make admissions decisions.
- Under what conditions would a student be asked to leave the school?
- What requirements do they have for parents? Do parents have to volunteer? How many hours?
- What additional fees are required/requested from parents?
- Are the financial and management records available for parents to view?
- How long has the school been in existence?
- What is the turnover rate for teachers and administrators?
- What are the demographics of the student population?
- How do they measure student achievement and teacher effectiveness?
- What accountability measurements are in place for the school as a whole, in addition to the measurements required by the State?
More information about charter schools and privatization:
21 Myths about Charter Schools
Why Schools Aren’t Businesses: The Blueberry Story
Top 10 Reasons School Choice is no Choice
New Report Shines a Light into the Charter School Black Box
Report Shows Charter Schools Make Money for Private Businesses
Florida gave Charter Schools Millions Before they Closed
Florida policymakers trying to privatize entire state public school system
Charters lift some kids, but what about the ballast
A scandal that’s exposing ugly truths about the school privatization agenda
Florida’s Charter Schools, Unsupervised
A dozen problems with charter schools
Charter schools are cheating your kids
An example of what charter school expansion is doing to traditional public schools