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Why Families Choose Charter Schools

When parents and students make the decision to seek a better education at a public charter school--which comes at no cost to them--they do so because they are dissatisfied with the status quo of traditional education.

Charter schools--which are created and operated by parents, organizations, or community groups to fill an educational need not otherwise offered by traditional schools--can direct their resources where their students need them most. Charters have more flexibility than conventional public schools in exchange for being held to additional standards to make sure they are meeting their student goals. It is for those reasons that public charter schools are part of the solution to a better education system; they offer an alternative to the monopoly that is leaving so many students behind.

Choosing a School

Charter schools are a good choice as you consider your child's educational options because they offer a variety of learning environments to meet your family's needs. No two charter schools are alike; some offer thematic or specialized curriculum, others focus on the basics. Some charter schools look like traditional public schools; others offer online classes and may not even have a physical campus. What charters do have in common, though, is that they are places where meaningful parental involvement is encouraged and valued.

When choosing a school for your child, consider your child's educational needs and your family's educational priorities. Identify your child's needs and learning style. Each child has their own set of needs. When choosing the right school, it is important to identify how your child learns best. Is it in small groups, or by participating in project-based learning? Does your child have an interest in the arts, or would he/she benefit from an independent study school?

Research schools by reading school information and participating in a school visit. While on campus, talk to teachers, visit their classes, and make sure you feel like the school is a good fit before making an important decision. When visiting the school be sure to visit classrooms and observe the teachers in action with students. Notice the student-to-teacher ratio, as class size may be an important factor for your child and your decision making.

The majority of charter schools ask parents to be involved in the school community. Inquire about volunteer hours and opportunities at the school.

Ask questions to understand if the school is the best fit for your child. One of the best ways to find out about a school is to ask another parent. They can give you insight about how their child feels about the school, if the teachers are effective, and if they are satisfied with their school choice.

Applying to a Charter School

Charter schools often require an application. Most applications require specific information, including name, address, birth date, name of last school attended, and ethnic background.

If you are considering enrolling your child in a charter school, you should pay close attention to any deadlines regarding that school's enrollment policy. Some charter schools, particularly those in high demand, will have a waitlist.

Because enrollment policies and procedures vary from school to school, families should contact individual charter schools to obtain specific enrollment information.

For additional information

CCSA and CCSA Families have produced a series of videos about charter schools for parents. Watch the playlist!

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