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Charter Schools in USA

The purpose of President Johnson’s No Child Left Behind Act of 1965 was to “raise achievement and close achievement gaps” so that every child had a chance to succeed in school. However, each year we find a long list of students who are in fact “left behind” for a number of reasons. While the traditional approach to education has benefited the vast majority of children that cross their thresholds, there are those who for one reason or another find that the old way of doing things does not work for them. That's why the charter schools appeared in the US.

The Ideology Behind Charter Schools

This new, relaxed approach to education has been a highly effective alternative in ensuring that more students have a chance to complete their school years as a success. The idea behind the Charter school is to establish an alternative educational program that provides a different approach to meeting the student’s specific educational needs. Rather than a cookie-cutter program where all students are taught in exactly the same way, at the same speed, and for the same period of time, students are encouraged to study as fast or as slow as they need to grasp the needed information. In addition, the Charter school environment is designed to move away from the traditional teaching methods, and bring in other techniques that may work more closely with a student’s unique learning style.

How Charter Schools Work

While these schools still have to meet the same high academic standards as the traditional public schools do, they are less likely to be bogged down with the usual bureaucracy that comes with a public school system. Because of this charter schools often have more freedom to take advantage of newer and more innovative educational approaches. Depending on the type of charter school, it may concentrate more effort on a specific subject area or learning style. For example, one particular school may have a focus of grooming their students for a particular major.

In charter schools, while they may have to cover all of the core subject areas, they are free to put a stronger focus on the major concentration of study. In addition to focusing on a specific target area some may focus on a different kind of education, provide a completely different type of learning environment, teach other subjects that would not be found in a traditional classroom, offer more difficult coursework, or give their students more creativity through the course of their study.

How Charter Schools Are Regulated

Because they are predominantly funded by taxpayer funds they are free to any student who lives within their assigned jurisdiction. While they use public funds, they are not considered to be public schools as their options are not strictly regulated in the same way as the traditional school programs are. In fact, each state sets its own rules for their charter schools and determines which method of authorization will govern the way the schools are run.

How Charter Schools Are Funded

The fact that these schools do not charge any tuition means that they must always be in search of other ways to receive funding. Charter schools usually take a portion of the state’s pool for education money. This is money that would normally be assigned to the public school system but has been redirected to support the charter program. While this funding may cover a portion of the costs of running the school, that money is rarely sufficient to manage all of their expenses they therefore need to find additional revenue sources in order to survive.

While charter schools have more flexibility and freedom in their methods of teaching, they are at a higher accountability for the results they receive, required to meet certain guidelines, rules, and regulations and students will still have to take standardized tests as a measurement of their success. The results in many cases have shown that charter schools have made major inroads in improving the quality of education for US youth.