Last modified: April 2, 2017
Charter Schools are those schools that are “publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools, in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each charter school’s charter” (National Educational Association).
The authorisers of the charter and the applicants who are legally permitted to issue and apply for charters are different in the different states of the U.S. The authorising bodies may include the State or local educational boards, or specially constituted independent bodies. The applicants for the charter could include local school districts, institutions of higher education, non-profit corporations, or even corporations running for profit.
In the same manner, the laws and regulations that govern the charter schools also vary from state to state. However the National Educational Association has set forth certain broad parameters and minimum criteria for assessing the state charter laws such as:
Only those schools that propose to proffer an educational experience that is qualitatively different from the education available in the normal public schools should be awarded the charters;
The local school boards must have a say in the granting or denial of charters through a publicly open process, with the right of appeal on the decisions reserved for the applicants;
Funding for charter schools should not be made by diverting funds from the public schools and should be proportionate to its size;
Continuous monitoring of charter schools for maintaining the required standards in education should be made mandatory along with the authority to modify or even close down erring schools.
According to the NEA, private schools should not be allowed to convert into charted schools and the employees of charter schools should be subject to the State’s labour laws.
In the beginning the charter schools attracted a lot of attention as they offered children free education and were administered as autonomous bodies. Some critics even warned that these schools would attract the gifted and high performers to their rolls. But what really ensued was that the student body of these schools is mostly made up of low income, minority and low performers (Radcliffe, & Scharrer). The 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or The Nation’s Report Card found that on an average, charter school students scored lower grades than the students of traditional public schools.
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