Charter Schools

Charter Schools



CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Charter schools in Colorado are funded in the Public School Finance Act, along with all other public schools. Charter schools receive per pupil revenue (PPR) on the same basis as other public school students enrolled in the district that granted its charter except that districts may retain up to 5% of charter school students’ PPR for actual administrative costs.

Charter schools are subject to all State and Federal provisions prohibiting discrimination and must enroll students in a non-discriminatory manner. Although charter schools are public schools, they do not have the independent mill levy override and bonding authority that school districts use to finance their capital facilities. To the extent state funds are not available to support this cost, operating revenues are used to pay for these costs.

CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE PIONEERS AND INNOVATORS

Charters allow creative parents, teachers and educational leaders to design schools that better serve particular populations.Charters can limit class and school size. Charter designers often heed to the research that states that small schools are generally safer and better able to nurture a community of learners than are large schools.

Charters select their own curriculum design. They can establish achievement-oriented cultures and choose staff to best support these structures from day one.
Charter schools are mission-driven schools created by educators who envision a school committed to a particular purpose and philosophy.

The tenor of relationships between charter schools and their districts vary widely. Ultimately accountable implementation of a charter schools’ mission is what best serves students. However, accountability need not be sacrificed for the very spirit of educational innovation and flexibility that the Charter Schools Act was intended to foster.

CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE APPEALING TO TEACHERS

Charters can harness the energy and creativity of innovative and experienced educators.
Because they are often founded and managed by teachers, charters facilitate relationships among teachers, teaching styles and students that optimize teacher skills and tailor them to student needs.

CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE OPEN TO ALL STUDENTS. THEY ARE:

Free.
Public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, non-home-based schools.
Non-selective in enrollment. There are no admission tests or admissions requirements.
Often designed to serve under-served populations.
Appealing to students whose needs are not being met by traditional schools.
Frequently over-enrolled; that is, more students apply than the school can accommodate. In that event, a lottery is held to determine admission.

CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE MEETING PARENTS' NEEDS BY PROVIDING EDUCATION CHOICE

Charter school legislation facilitates the right of parents to make informed choices about their child’s education. Each of Colorado’s charter schools is distinct. They are all seeking innovative ways to run a public school, giving parents public school choice, proving that "one size does not fit all." Because parents CHOOSE charter schools, many feel a sense of ownership that, in turn, results in increased involvement and higher achievement.

In the 2000-01 school year, almost half of the charter schools required parents to enter into a contract that spelled out the school’s expectations relating to parental involvement in the school and in their child’s education.

In the 2000-01 school year, over 90% of charter schools regularly administered a parent satisfaction survey. CDE’s April 2002 report on charter schools states that based upon market-based indicators such as parent satisfaction, re-enrollment rates and school waiting lists, charter schools in Colorado frequently met or exceeded goals. Many charter proponents believe that these market-based indicators provide one of the highest measures of accountability.

CHARTER SCHOOLS PLAY AN IMPORTANT PART IN SCHOOL REFORM

The Colorado Charter Schools Act was adopted in 1993 to “provide all children with schools that reflect high expectations and create conditions in all schools where these expectations can be met”

Charters are integral to continued accountable school reform in Colorado. In states that have large numbers of charter schools, such as Michigan, Massachusetts, and Arizona, there is evidence that school districts competing directly with charter schools for students are developing more and better options to attract and retain students.

In 1991, there was one charter school in the nation; in 1996, there were 250. Today, there are more than 2400 charter schools in 34 states and Washington, D.C.
Nearly 600,000 students attend charter schools nationwide; there are over approximately 28,000 students enrolled in Colorado’s 90+ charter schools (approximately 4% of total public school enrollment), with thousands more on the waiting lists of these schools.

CHARTER SCHOOLS HAVE A RECORD OF STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

Charter schools typically have a higher degree of parental involvement, smaller total enrollment and smaller class size than comparable non-charter public schools. Each of these factors has been demonstrated to correlate highly with student success.
Most charter schools are succeeding in their mandate. When they fail, they are closed, not unlike a business. To date, only 4 charter schools in Colorado have closed, and 2 have changed their status from charter schools.

Colorado charter school students tend to perform well on the CSAP. Although comparison data for 2001-02 is not yet available, in 2000-01, the charter school average exceeded the state average by at least 9 points in 4th and 5th grade reading, as well as 7th grade writing. They trailed the state average by 5 points in 9th grade reading.

"Charter Schools are helping to boost accountability, public school choice, and most importantly, student achievement." Richard Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education.
A November, 2000 Center for Urban Education report found that of the 53 valid research studies done on charter schools, 50 found that charters overall have proven innovative, accountable, and successful.

CHARTERS ARE COMMITTED TO IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION

Charter schools exist to provide educational opportunities not previously available, not because they are mandated to exist. As charter schools become more a part of their communities, they have started to demonstrate and share strong educational practices with other public schools.

Charters work through a unique trade-off of "autonomy for accountability." By experimenting with new measures of student achievement, charters are encouraging districts to look beyond standardized test scores for exclusive proof of student success.

Charters are building new models of community and parent involvement because, as schools of choice, they can see the importance of keeping their customers satisfied.

CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE NOT VOUCHERS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Charter schools are schools of choice that are publicly funded and not affiliated with religious institutions. Vouchers are government-issued certificates for parents to redeem for a private schools education for their children.

Charter schools are subject to the same safety regulations, civil rights regulations, standardized testing, and financial accountability as other public schools.
Unlike some private schools, charter schools are open to enrollment of any and all students. Colorado’s charter school law prohibits the conversion of private schools to charter schools.

NATIONWIDE, CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE OPERATED BY AN EXCITING ARRAY OF NON-PROFIT GROUPS

Colorado’s law permits any group or person to petition to start a charter school. Charters in Colorado have been launched by a broad variety of groups of teachers, parents and community activists, all of whom are highly motivated by the desire to actively create successful learning environments.

On a national level, cultural institutions, educational foundations, and community development corporations have all expressed interest in creating and/or created charter schools.

As we create more charters, communities will be able to tap a variety of providers to create schools where student success is more clearly defined and purposefully sought.