Charter Schools: Let’s reset (2)

(2nd in a series on Education)

Prothero, Arianna. (2018, August 9). Charter Schools. Education Week.

The impact of charter schools on our taxes has been significant, and Gadfly has wanted to investigate and learn more.

So Gadfly started a thread on charter schools a week ago, suggesting we start with a 2017 article focused on Bethlehem.

That was a mistake.

That Carol Burris article took me into the mud too deeply and too fast.

Let’s reset with the above basic article in the respected Education Week for a big picture overview.


“As the first credible competition to the traditional system of public schooling—and a direct competitor for tight resources—charter schools are the source of ongoing controversy and debate.”

What Are Charter Schools? How Do They Work?

  • a tuition-free school of choice that is publicly funded but independently run
  • conceived to loosen red tape around public schools
  • conceived to free up educators to innovate
  • exempted from many of the state laws and regulations that govern public schools
  • bound to the terms of a contract, or “charter,” that lays out a school’s mission, academic goals, fiscal guidelines, and accountability requirements
  • enjoying the “charter bargain”: more freedom for more accountability
  • do not draw students from an assigned area
  • families choose to send their children

Who Runs Charter Schools?

  • a school leader or principal overseen by an appointed board
  • unlike public schools, not overseen directly by an elected school board
  • an authorizer with power to approve and close down
  • a growing share are run by larger management organizations

Are Charter Schools Non-Profit?

  • many of the best-known networks are run by nonprofit charter management organizations, or CMOs
  • some states allow for-profit companies, education management organizations, EMOs
  • non-profit schools may hire for-profit companies to manage the school

How Are Charter Schools Funded?

  • state and local money based on the number of students enrolled
  • federal funds to provide special education services

Are They Public or Private?

  • a source of debate depending on how you define a public school
  • generally viewed under state laws as public schools whose students are required to take all the same assessments as those who attend traditional district schools


  • classroom innovation
  • freedom of choice
  • competition for students spurs improvement
  • alternative curricular approaches
  • focus on specific fields of study
  • virtual or cyber schools


  • divert vital resources from cash-strapped school districts
  • educate proportionately fewer students with disabilities
  • cherry-pick students
  • punitive discipline practices
  • more racially segregated
  • financial mismanagement
  • nepotism

Effectiveness: What the Research Says

  • mixed, contradictory

Ok, now Gadfly feels a little bit better. How about you?

One thought on “Charter Schools: Let’s reset (2)

  1. Worth remembering that many charters are created to replace ‘failing’ public schools, but most of them do not do any better than the public school. Others (sometimes with a sham nonprofit as the nominal operator) are created to channel public funds into private profit.

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