A public school of choice, usually created by parents or educators seeking an alternative to traditional public schools. Developers create a contract, or charter, with a sponsoring agency (either state or local school board). In exchange for autonomy from many state and district requirements, charter schools are expected to offer financial responsibility, academic accountability for student performance, as well as innovative and challenging educational practices.
Proponents expect charter schools to generate a more competitive educational market and thus to improve education for all students. In this view, schools outside the traditional structure and bureaucracy are free to innovate, and competition will force public schools to learn from these innovations. Charter schools also permit freedom of choice by parents and students, as their curricula often reflect the values of their founders and may range from "back to basics" to Afrocentrism.
Opponents of charter schools argue that they lead to the resegregation of schools and are a first step to the use of vouchers. Critics charge that the establishment of charters reduces funding to traditional public schools, thus compromising the opportunity to provide equitable education for all students.
For further explanation:
- The North Carolina Charter Schools website details the state's policies on charter schools, provides statistics on charter schools in the states, and gives tools and resources for current and prospective charter school initiatives.
- See the Education Week issue page on “Charter Schools” for more details and links to additional articles.