Why Choose Charter Schools?
Picking the right school for your child feels like an endless struggle. Sometimes your first choice isn’t the right fit, or maybe you don’t know where to start. If you’ve lost faith in the traditional public school system and find private school is too expensive, you will find yourself searching for the middle ground. You’ll find that the perfect alternative is enrolling in a charter school.
The Nitty-Gritty Basics
Charter schools are seen as an interesting hybrid between private and public schools for a number of reasons. By definition, charter schools are independent public schools that have a bit more wiggle room than schools within the traditional public school system since they are run by a nonprofit community board and authorized by an elected board like a local school board or the state board of education.
Demographics-wise, based on data collected in 2015 by the Louisiana Department of Education, charter schools typically serve large percentages of economically disadvantaged and Black students. This gives children of all backgrounds the chance to enjoy the education they deserve. Due to their popularity, it can be difficult to get into a charter school, with most enrollment systems involving a lottery system.
In Louisiana, there are several types of charter schools, but they can be condensed into three categories: regular charter schools, conversion charter schools, and Recovery School District (RSD) schools. Conversion schools are local public schools that have been converted into charter schools, and RSD charter schools are part of a school system tasked with intervening, improving, and reforming persistently low-scoring schools.
How Much Does it Cost?
According to the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, tuition is free thanks to the Minimum Foundation program. A program method where “the state equitably distributes public funds to all K-12 public school programs on a per-pupil basis, the method by which the state equitably distributes public funds to all K-12 public school programs on a per-pupil basis.”
A Built-in Fail-Safe
Since charter schools are held to a higher standard for education, they are also entirely accountable for the school’s success. If things go horribly awry within the school’s administration, chances are nothing will be swept under the rug “for posterity’s sake” since their contract holder or authorizer has the ability to shut down the school if it fails to meet expectations academically or follow the financial and organizational standards set by the state charter system. These check-ins by authorizers typically happen toward the end of the contract, which usually spans about five years.
Education and Enrichment Offerings
The unique types of curriculum that are offered vary by school, however, many charter schools offer singularly focused education. For example, some offer strict STEM/STEAM courses or teach in modern learning styles like Montessori, and other schools are entirely based on language immersion.
Charter schools can use their freedom to branch out and teach students about the world, careers, and the future by giving students a taste of something beyond the basics of STEM. Courses, clubs, and programs featuring robotics, engineering, technology, visual arts, performing arts, and music are just a handful of the subjects students can explore.
Oftentimes, partnership opportunities with local museums, colleges, and organizations can allow for the creation of exciting outreach programs. Nature-based programs allow students to explore local flora and fauna while learning from the best about how to respect Louisiana’s forests and waterways to keep Louisiana clean and teeming with life. By partnering with local experts and community members, multicultural offerings can expose students to the language, food, and traditions of people around the world.
The Overall Positives
Most parents who choose to send their children to private schools are wooed by the idea of academic growth, college readiness, and career preparedness. Since many charter schools are able to allocate funding towards hiring the most accredited staff and the creation of programs that mesh with students’ goals, both parents and students are pleased with what charter schools can accomplish.
Charter schools often have a certain school culture or environment that entices and encourages students to foster skills and pursue their interests all the while enjoying the company of like-minded peers. Mixing together the idea of exploration, collaboration, and support forms a spirit of togetherness. How is this possible? Smaller classroom sizes. Thanks to selective enrollment, charter schools have a lower student-to-faculty ratio. This means that teachers will have more time and opportunities to connect with students and learn about each student’s unique background, interests, and approach to learning. This type of bond is what catapults most young learners toward a brighter future.
All-in-all, charter schools are an invaluable resource for young, curious minds and parents looking to give them an educational experience with lots of creativity and educational freedom. Choosing the right school that meets your child’s needs is one of the best things you can do for them and their future. Come up with your criteria, research local schools, and make the best decision for you and your family.