As parents, you have to make a lot of important decisions, decisions that will weigh heavily on our children’s lives, both right now and in the future. Perhaps the most important decision of all is where to send your children to school.
Today, there are more choices than ever before, but no two options are more hotly debated than public schools and charter schools.
Neither one of these choices is inherently “better” than the other; they are simply different options with different pros and cons. Understanding the differences between the two is the best way to determine which choice is the best fit for you and the ones you love most.
Not all that long ago, all the children in town went to public schools; that was the only option. Now, though, choices abound. Even so, public schools are still going strong.
These are schools that are founded and financed by the government, meaning we all help to pay for them through our tax dollars. Public schools are required by law to accept every student who lives within their predetermined zone or district. Some public schools are “better” or more high-performing, usually measured in terms of test scores and college acceptances at the high school level. Also, some schools see more crime than others, often based on the area or, more importantly, the socioeconomic makeup of the area in which they reside.
Charter schools came into the picture a little over twenty years ago. They are an offshoot of public schools, created by parents, teachers, commercial organizations, and the community as a whole. The fact that they receive some public funding keeps them from being “private,” but because they also receive outside funding, they are not true public schools either.
Charter schools do meet the educational requirements set in place by the state, but they are also able to do many things their own way, such as offering unique electives or limiting admission to certain students.
Before you start considering whether or not a charter school is the best fit for your student, look and see if you even have one in or near your area. While these schools are certainly growing in popularity, they are not everywhere quite yet, so a charter school might not even be a viable option for your family.
If charter schools are a choice you have, take a look at your local public school and how your child is performing in it. If you feel that your child is doing well in public schooling and being challenged, there really is no need to make the switch. While charter schooling can be a great option, it is generally only necessary if something about the school means your child will have a significant advantage by attending it. Especially gifted children or children interested in a certain educational area highlighted by the school are often prime candidates.
Of course, public schools can be just as good. Some praise the fact that they are more diverse than charter schools tend to be and that they offer students a more well-rounded, future-focused education. In the end, only you can decide the best fit for your children; just do so with a lot of careful consideration.
This article was written on behalf of Kendall College a provider of Chicago education programs.