Understanding The Concept Of Charter Schools

Understanding The Concept Of Charter Schools
Charter schools are a new concept in schooling that has worked wonders for the educational system in the city of New Orleans following the damage wrought by hurricane Katrina. Charter schools are experimental elementary and secondary schools that are publicly funded but have been granted charters from either the board of education or school districts that allow them to operate independently of other schools. These schools are set up and organized by parents, teachers and leaders in a community.

To put it another way, schools that are run by a charter operate independently but do so by way of public money. Before hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans the educational system had structure and direction but academic failure was very high and corruption was rampant. With the introduction of charter schools in the city borne out of necessity, the Recovery School District (RSD) took over the reform of the school system. The city has since become “a laboratory for education reform.” In fact out of 30 cities analyzed by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the city was recently named the most reform friendly in terms of education.

Charter schools dominate in the city of New Orleans and the opportunity to experiment with learning methods is there. There are currently 88 public schools in the city, of which 61 are charters that are run by local operators and state operators. Parents also have plenty of say in what their children are learning.

Schools that are charters are innovative, legally independent and are outcome-based. They are a new breed of public school that has caught on in many different areas of the country. There are certain things that they share in common. To begin with they must receive legislation from the state that gives them the right to operate. The legislation will outline what the requirements are to start and to maintain such a school. It also will outline how many schools of this nature are allowed in a particular state.

When a group of people such as teachers, organizers and parents get together and submit plans to the board of education to open such a school they must be willing to follow the guidelines established by the state. The board or sponsor will then take everything under advisement and will then render the verdict. In other words they will either grant the charter or will deny it.

Once a charter has been given the green light to operate, the schools organize as their own legal entity. Very often this means that they become an independent school district because they have come together as a not-for-profit corporation.

All schools that operate as charters are public schools. What this means is that they are required by law to teach all of the students that wish to attend. These students do not have to be gifted intellectually nor do they have to come from families with lots of money. Admission cannot be limited and these schools cannot charge students to be educated there. These schools are not private institutions. These educational institutions must follow all of the proper provisions of civil rights. Admission is not based on religious affiliation, athletic talent or academic ability.

New Orleans charter schools are improving, but there’s still work to do. For more information visit: http://educatenow.net/.

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