Yesterday, I wrote a little about homeschooling as an education option. This is one route that provides huge flexibility and choice regarding structure and content. Another non-traditional education path is the charter school.
Definitions for charter schools vary from state to state, as do laws, but generally a charter school is the following:
- A public School.
- Created when a group individuals petition a local school board or county board of education for a charter to open an independent school in their community.
- Sponsored by another organization, such as a local university.
- Typically founded by educators, parents, community groups or private organizations.
- Operated under a written contract with a state, district or other entity.
- Required to meet local, state, or federal standards of education.
Furhter definitions can be found at US Charter Schools. These schools can be part of a larger public school district, or an independent district supported by the state and sponsors.The National Charter School Study has found that the top three reasons charter schools are created is to gain autonomy, realize a vision, or serve a specific group. These goals are met in a variety of ways. Charter schools’ freedom allows them to structure the learning as they like.
Parents and teachers choose charter schools primarily for educational reasons–high academic standards, small class size, innovative approaches, or educational philosophies in line with their own. Some also have chosen charter schools for their small size and associated safety (charter schools serve an average of 250 students). -US Charter Schools
The charter school which I used to work for, Avalon School, for instance, accepts 180 students from grades 7-12 and emphasizes growth through project-based learning — very different from the traditional public schools in the St. Paul area.
There are so many options for education available; what works best for your family?