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    Why We Don’t Charter School {Part I}

    October 19, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    The best place to begin this discussion is with a definition. I didn’t even know what a charter school was until a couple of years ago, so I’m going to assume that all of my readers don’t know, either. A charter school can take different forms, so I am going to attempt to boil it down to the basics. In my mind all charter schools have these characteristics:

    1. They are chartered by a public school district. I am sure there are varying levels of control exerted by these school districts, but in the end, the charter school is under the same authority that got that traditional public school you are trying to avoid into its current award-winning shape. Yes, that was a bit of sarcasm. I will try to control it from here on out.
    2. The students are legally public school students. This is an important one. If you are “homeschooling” through a charter school, you are not homeschooling in the legal sense. Your child is a public school student. There are legal reasons why this is important. If I could ask charter school parents to do one thing, it would be to say that they “charter school” rather than that they “homeschool.” The reason for this is that we never want to reach a situation where a loss of freedom at the charter school is perceived to apply to those of us wishing to remain independent from the public schools.

      By the way, this does not mean that I think these parents work less than I do, or anything of this sort. I only want the terminology to be concise for the protection of my own family and others who choose to homeschool in the legal sense.

    3. The charter school is funded by tax dollars. There are private schools who offer an umbrella to homeschoolers, and yet I would never call the students under the umbrella “charter students.” This is because the education for those students is paid for by their parents. Charter school students are public school students not just because the school is under the authority of a public school district, but because the taxpayer is footing the bill for the child’s education.
    4. One word: freebies. This, again, varies from school to school, but I have never heard of a charter school that didn’t give out freebies, otherwise known as incentives. Some schools give cash. Others give free laptops. Still others give zoo and museum passes, or free books {as long as those books are obedient to state guidelines}. I suppose that a charter school without freebies would still be a charter school, but, like I said, they all seem to have this in common.

    Some charter schools have no real campus. Some are online. Some have a campus and have required or optional classes one or two days a week. Many have teachers that direct the parents in the student’s education, but I didn’t put that on the list because I’m not familiar enough to say that they all do this. As far as I know, they “require” student testing, but I know for a fact that a student can be opted out in California, so, again, this isn’t something that all charter schools do.

    So. There you have it. Charter School 101. To the best of my knowledge, at least. Stay tuned.

    You’r reading Part I
    Part II
    Part III
    Part IV
    Part V
    Ending Note

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    1 Comment

  • Reply Jeana October 20, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Hi, Brandy! This is my first time here and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your writing. It’s obvious you put a lot of thought into what you write. I’ll be back!

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