What exactly is a charter school anyway?

How many of you have been at a summer cookout and have been asked, “I know your kid goes to the charter school over there down from the pool.  What exactly is a charter school anyway?”  How about at Thanksgiving dinner when all your distant relatives are together?  Doesn’t someone invariably ask you to tell them what makes a charter school different from other schools?  I’ve even been asked by the check-out person at the grocery store when they see my kid’s school t-shirt.

So, what do you tell them?

Wikipedia says that,

a charter school is a school that receives public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to 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 school’s charter.  Charter schools are opened and attended by choice.  While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition.

Alright.

Um.  Well.  Okay.

What are you going to tell Great Uncle Earl when he asks what a charter school is at your next holiday get together?

A charter school is a public school of choice. It is public.  Public means no tuition.  In other words, it’s free.  And, you choose to go there.

A charter school offers innovation in education. A charter school has to meet the same state academic standards that every other school has to meet.  However, the school itself decides how it’s going to achieve those standards.

Now you know.

So go forth and educate the world.  Or at least your immediate community.

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