The first charter school in the United States opened in Minnesota in 1992. Since that day, charter schools have become a mainstream educational solution across the country. In fact, new charter schools open up regularly as people find that they have a vision to make something different. If you've been thinking about starting a charter school, it's important to consider your drive and your goals. Here are a few of the most common reasons why people launch charter schools.
One of the biggest challenges of the public school system is the demand for it. The growing population leads to growing class sizes and overcrowding in schools without the funds to expand and accommodate that increasing student body. Many charter schools launched in an effort to offer alternatives with smaller class sizes.
Eliminating overcrowding as a challenge for education provides students with a more comfortable, less stressful learning environment and the potential for more engaging classroom experiences. Smaller classes also foster stronger relationships between peers, providing students with a support system they may not otherwise have had in an overwhelmed school where it was easy to get overlooked in the crowd.
Under-performing public school districts
Public school districts are bound to strict educational guidelines, limited funds, and a host of other challenges. This often leads to districts where students are pushed through, even without reaching the levels of achievement necessary for academic progress. Underperforming schools put students at a disadvantage when they are not provided the same opportunities and support to learn. This often leads to perpetuating negative cycles.
Charter schools offer an opportunity for students in underperforming districts to seek an alternative education. Although most charter school systems are publicly funded, they have the independence and freedom to establish their own curriculum and methodology. That means students in underperforming public school districts may get a stronger, more comprehensive education from a charter school.
Specialized educational needs
The design of the public school system is a one-size-fits-all design. Even though there are federal regulations in place for student accommodations and special education support, many districts lack the infrastructure or understanding to implement those measures properly. Many charter schools are founded as a result of these types of challenges.
You can establish a charter school with that in mind, creating an environment that caters to those with specialized educational needs. Whether you're launching a school that is predominantly gifted, one for children with developmental or physical disabilities, or even an immersion school for second-language learners, there are many options.
Consider your why as you draft the charter for the school you've been envisioning. Reach out to a charter school start-up program near you to learn more.