With 2019 barely underway, the nation has already witnessed another set of highly publicized teacher strikes. Teachers unions and anti-charter activists have wasted no time in painting public charter schools as the culprit, blaming them for “draining money from public schools.”
To clarify, charter schools are public schools. They’re supported by taxpayer money and overseen by public organizations—often school districts. All charter students must participate in state tests and related accountability measures. However, charter schools are operated by independent organizations, usually nonprofits, so they’re free from top-down mandates and bureaucratic red tape that often constrain district-operated schools.
In exchange for increased autonomy, charters are held accountable through performance contracts with authorizers, who close or replace them if their students aren’t learning enough. Most charter schools are schools of choice, and unlike magnet schools in traditional districts, they are not allowed to select their students. If too many students apply, they hold a lottery to see who gets in.
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