Dr. Rich Patterson

Charter Schools: Public or Private–Part 5

The short answer here is that it depends.  It depends on your definition of public or private.  Charter schools do not have an elected school board in the same way that a public school district has.  Nor do they have to accept all students who wish to enroll, like public schools.  Are they only funded by public funds?  Generally not.  So in these areas, they are not the same as public schools.  To make it more complicated, some states fund private schools with state money through vouchers, tax credits, education savings accounts while the public schools receive state funding and are more highly regulated.  This makes it difficult to clearly answer this question.

In many states, if you ask this question, people will say they are Public Schools.  In Colorado, for example, charter schools are considered public schools even though they enjoy some of the benefits outlined above.  Some school districts have magnet schools that have special admissions requirements that give them an opportunity to pick and choose students. In most states, charter schools have to adhere to the same testing requirements that public schools have, so in that sense, they are generally considered to by public schools.

If you are considering enrollment for your child in a charter school, or public school for that matter.  Read about the school’s governance structure.  If it is a part of the school district, you will likely be familiar with much of the governance and funding structure.  If it is a charter school, ask details about funding, focus, student achievement and the like.  In most cases, you should be able to look at their test scores in the same source as public schools, such as your state’s department of education website.

Source:  Prothero, Arianna. (2018) Charter Schools: 7 Common Questions, Answered.  Education Week, August 9, 2018.