As of 2016, the state of California has the largest number of students enrolled in charter schools in the United States, with over 500,000 students. To be honest, I was pretty shocked to see such a large number. Of course, I have heard of charter schools, but I can’t say that I knew they had become so popular in the state of California. I know that some people may be a little confused as to what exactly a “charter school” is. Well, a charter school by definition is a public school that is independent of a school district through a contract (or charter) with state or local boards. Much like public schools, charter schools are open to all students, do not charge tuition, and do not require your child to take an entrance exam. If the two are so similar, why choose a charter school over a public school?
I’ll start off by explaining why so many are against charter schools. Unfortunately, the public school system gets it’s funding based on not only the number of students in attendance each day, but also the grades for each of those students. So, say a charter school comes along and offers more advanced classes for those students who are looking to be challenged in the classroom. When these students decide to enroll in this charter school over their local public school, it takes away from not only the public school’s attendance but also its grade average. This is turn makes for less funding for public schools, which means fewer teachers, crowded classrooms and not enough focus on each individual student’s needs. However, statistics show that when grade averages in a public school and charter school are compared, there is no definitive proof that charter schools actually offer any better of an education.
On the other hand, there are many pros to sending your child to a charter school. For starters, the class sizes are much smaller allowing for a much more focused and intimate experience in the classroom. Some children can really benefit from a closer relationship with their teachers and fellow students. Take it from someone who attended a private school from kindergarten to 12th grade, smaller classes make for great relationships and allow for a lot more one on one time with your teachers. Another benefit of a charter school is the ability to have a more focused curriculum. Say your child absolutely loves science or arts, then Ballington Academy for the Arts and Sciences in San Bernardino, CA, may be the perfect charter school for him/her. There are many charter schools just like this academy that surround their class curriculums on everything from sciences, music, public safety, religion and many more unique studies. It is definitely worth a good look into what’s available in your area, a parent can only benefit from knowing what options are out their.
To see which charter schools are near you, visit the California Department of Education website here.
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