A charter school can be organized by any non-profit organization in accordance with the rules set forth by the Charter Schools Act. The school can be re-organized, or the existing public school can be transformed into a charter one. Charter schools cannot be religious.
What is the main difference of a charter school?
There is no compulsory program for a charter school. The purpose of these schools is to provide complete freedom of pedagogical experiment. These schools are not obliged to comply the generally accepted requirements in regular state schools (the hours for the study of a subject, the number of academic hours per day, the duration of the school year, etc). However, the knowledge gained by students at school must meet the standard adopted by the law in the state.
This means that the child who completed the appropriate class must possess the necessary minimum of knowledge in each subject included in the standard.
The charter school issues a standard state graduation diploma that is accepted by all universities. Students must pass all national and local tests.
Charter schools, like all public schools, are obliged to provide equal opportunities for teaching children with disabilities and should primarily focus on teaching children from different “risk groups”, that is, children who find it difficult to study in a regular school (especially gifted and “problem” children).
Control over the activities of the charter school is carried out by the local committee of public education. The committee has the right to close the charter school if it detects serious deviations from the original application.
Charter school licensing
The process of licensing a charter school includes the following steps:
- An application is submitted to the local education department, in which the goals and objectives of creating a school are explained, a description of the proposed educational program, methods for assessing students’ knowledge, a school management mechanism, interactions with parents, etc. are given;
- The application is being reviewed and evaluated by the education department. For example, in Illinois, no more than 45 charter schools can function at the same time (there are 22 of them now), 15 of which should be urban, 15 – suburban and 15 – rural. One of the elements of the evaluation of the application is evidence that this school will be in demand, that is, that a sufficient number of students will want to study in it (signatures on a petition may serve as a proof);
- Not later than 45 days after filing the application, the local department of national education should organize an open meeting to discuss the proposal. The date and time of the meeting are published in the local press. After an open meeting, the local education department must vote for the decision to open a new school or reject the application and send a report to the Department of Education.
The license is issued for a period of 5 years, after which the school must again confirm its status.
Charter schools are public, i.e. they receive full funding from the federal Department of Education and from the state. Studying here is free.
Schools belong to the district education departments in whose territory they are located, and they are obliged to accept all children living in the area. If there are more people willing to study at a charter school than it can accept, then the school must arrange a lottery, thus ensuring equal chances of getting for all candidates.
If there are vacancies in the school and students from other districts want to enroll in them, the school can accept them. In this case, parents should pay for the tuition.