Charter schools are publicly funded schools and are becoming increasingly popular in the educational community. Charter Schools are called schools of choice because unlike traditional schools where students are assigned to a public school based on their residential location, parents and students get to choose to enroll in a school that may offer a unique learning environment, such as a STEM school or performing arts school. Many feel that charter schools better prepare our students for success because these schoolshave more autonomy than public schools in regard to curriculum, instruction, and operations.
Curriculum and Instruction

Charter schools’ curriculum and pedagogies are mission responsive and is based on the school's mission. For example, the school of Arts and Sciences in Tallahassee, Florida curriculum and instruction feature thematic, interdisciplinary instruction, project-based learning, and portfolio assessments in place of grades. Community of Peace is a charter school located in a gang-infested area in St. Paul, Minnesota and has a co-curriculum that provides instruction inside and outside of the classroom that addresses behavioral management by focusing on peace building and fostering justice and a non-violent lifestyle. Roxbury Prep in Massachusetts developed their own curricula and do not use textbooks. Some charter schools have adopted external curriculum models. For instance, BASIS Charter schools headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona adopted the Advanced Placement curriculum. Oglethorpe Charter in Savannah, Georgia adopted the Core Knowledge curriculum. The Arts and Technology Academy in Washington, D.C.. adopted the Paragon curriculum and uses the direct instruction model. Charter schools also have flexible scheduling and operations. Some schools start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m., and other schools may have students come to school on Saturdays. Charter schools also can incorporate different types of learning like online learning or hybrid learning where students receive instruction both online and in the classroom.


The National Alliance for Public Charter (2017) shows that the number of students currently enrolled in charter schools has reached a national high of over 3 million students! They performed a study on 1,000 students’ parents, and the results showed that 78% of parents with charter schools in their community and 73% of parents without favored opening one in their community. Even though charter schools are growing at an exponential rate, public charter schools have both proponents and critics.


Proponents of charter schools feel that charter schools offer more innovative educational programs, provide new options to families, and promote healthy competition (Fin, Manno, and Vanourek, 2000). However, charter schools are no panacea and are no more effective than traditional public schools. In fact, many opponents of charter schools feel that charter schools exacerbate racial segregation, and create fiscal strains for school districts, and have unreliable operations (Wells et. Al., 1992). More importantly, many feel that charter schools aren’t as effective as public schools when it comes to their impact on student achievement.The debate on whether charter schools positively impact students in achieving academic success is still somewhat evasive. U. S. News and World Report mentions that in Michigan, where Betsy DeVos' support for school choice became a flashpoint during her confirmation to be President Trump's education secretary, for-profit charters are some of the worst performers in the state (2017). There are other research findings that suggest that charter schools aren't necessarily a school that better serve students with low economic backgrounds (Cowen and Winters, 2013; Sass, 2006).

On the other hand, another article from U.S. News and World Report mentions that among cities tested by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, D.C. has the fastest improving charters. They mentioned that D.C. charter students gained the equivalent of 72 days of extra learning per year in reading and 101 in math, compared to traditional public students. Research findings that are consistent with these findings include Hoxby and his colleagues (2009) that show that upper elementary grades students outperformed similar grade students that were in traditional public schools. Another study conducted by Hoxby and Rockoff (2005) found that students enrolled in the Chicago charter schools performed better in reading than their public-school counterparts.

I personally am a proponent of public schools. However, as charter schools continue to shape educational policy, whether I teach at a public or charter school, I have a responsibility to do all I can today to help prepare our youth for the future.

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1. Cowen, J.M., & Winters, M.A. (2013). “Choosing Charters: Who Leaves Public School as an Alternative Sector Expands?” Journal of Education Finance, 38(3), pp. 210‐229.
The authors examine five years of data on students moving into these schools from the traditional public sector. The authors consider student attributes and the school and district contexts that they are leaving. The better students are performing relative to their peers, the less likely they are to move into a charter. There are higher rates of minority students in the charter sector, and Hispanics appear especially likely to transfer. On the other hand, special-needs students are less likely to be in charters. White students are more likely to enter a charter school with more white students than minority students who are more likely to move into charters with more minority students. These findings suggest that charter schools do not "cream skim" the best students away from the traditional sector, although there is evidence that charters do not provide an educational home for all.

2. Finn, C.E., Manno, B.V., and Vanourek, G. (2000). Charter Schools in Action: Renewing Public Education. Princeton University Press.
This book provides a thorough overview of the thinking behind the charter school movement and puts charter schools in the context of other efforts to improve education.

3. Grabianowski, Ed. (n.d.). How Charter Schools Work. Retrieved from
This article briefly discusses how a charter school work and advantages that charter school claims and the disadvantage of charter schools claimed by critics.

4. Hoxby, C.M., Murarka, S, & King, J. (2009). “How New York City’s Charter Schools Affect Student Achievement: August 2009 Report.” Retrieved from
This report analyzes the achievement of 93 percent of the New York City charter school students who were enrolled in test-taking grades (grades 3 through 12) in 2000-01 through 2007-08.

5. Hoxby, C. M., & Rockoff, J.E. (2005). “Findings from the City of Big Shoulders.” Education Next, 5(4), pp. 52‐58.
This study compares students who started out in a charter school and spent an average of two years in the elementary grades to their counterparts who didn’t attend a charter school and found that they score about six national percentile rank points higher in math and science than their counterparts.

6. National Alliance for Public Charter. (2017). Charter School Dashboard. Retrieved from
This website shows the number of students currently enrolled in charter schools at the state and national level.

7. Rotherham, A.J. (2017). Don’t Ban For-Profit Charters: A ban might clean up bad actors, but it would throw out the working options, too. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved from
This is an editorial that talks about how the public is skeptical about for-profit managed schools. The author suggests that eliminating for-profit charter schools might shut down bad schools, but it will also shut down the good schools as well.

8. Sass, T. R. (2006). “Charter Schools and Student Achievement in Florida.” Education Finance and Policy, 1(1), pp. 91‐122. Retrieved from: [accessed Jun 3, 2017].
This study utilizes longitudinal data covering all public school students in Florida to study the performance of charter schools and their competitive impact on traditional public schools. Controlling for student-level fixed effects, achievement initially is lower in charters. However, by their fifth year of operation new charter schools reach a par with the average traditional public school in math and produce higher reading achievement scores than their traditional public school counterparts. Among charters, those targeting at-risk and special education students demonstrate lower student achievement, while charter schools managed by for-profit entities perform no differently on average than charters run by nonprofits.

9. Wells, A. S., L. Artiles, S. Carnochan, C. W. Cooper, C. Grutzik, J. J. Holme, A. Lopez, J. Scott, J. Slayton, and A. Vasudeva. (1998). Beyond the Rhetoric of Charter School Reform: A Study of Ten California School Districts, Los Angeles, Calif.: UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Retrieved from [accessed Jun 3, 2017].
The authors examine the effect charter schools are having on student achievement generally, and on different demographic groups, in two major urban districts in California. Student achievement results suggest that charter schools are having mixed overall effects and generally not promoting student achievement for minorities.