What are Charter Schools?

Special Reports

During the recent debate and protests over charter schools in West Virginia, we mostly heard that they would take away money from public schools. 

While charter schools are free to students, they do use taxpayer dollars, and it’s usually a smaller amount than what’s given to public schools. 

Charter schools are independent. Some are for-profit but most are run by non-profit groups with more choice in the types of curriculum taught. 

They have their own superintendents and administrators, but they are still accountable to the state.  

Groups that run them sign a “charter” or agreement with the state, including performance goals and students take state standardized tests. 

If they succeed, those performance goals, the contract is renewed. If they do not, then the charter can be closed. 

Many charters are located in disadvantaged communities, where students are 2 to 3 grades behind. 
Which may be surprising when you see some results. 

This 2014 Stanford University study illustrates charter schools that showed significantly high growth in math and reading scores nationwide. 

A straight comparison of charters to public schools … shows mixed results. 

However, the report does show the strong performance of charter school students living in challenged neighborhoods like in two major Ohio cities, Cleveland and Columbus. 

Opponents say public schools could show the same results if allowed to reduce class size like charters. 

What about teachers? Are they required to be certified in order to teach at charter schools? 

More bang for the buck? 

Take a look at this study from the University of Arkansas when comparing charter schools to public school in eight major cities for cost-efficiency. 

So what about transportation? In many cases, charter students are either driven to schoon or take public transportation like school buses. Here’s one national study on transportation for charters. 

Here are the best worst charter schools according to US News, which puts out annual scores for all nationwide schools.  

There are also problems associated with charter schools, like the embattled for-profit ECOT school in Ohio. 

Whether West Virginia eventually adds charter schools in the future, advocates of them suggest there be strong oversight and transparency. 

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