What’s a Charter School?

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Charter schools are public schools that receive government funding but enjoy more independence from state and district regulations.

Charter schools have been an important part of Louisiana education for a while, and a recent study found that Louisiana charter school students make more academic progress than their public school counterparts. Charter schools are the new kid on the block in Mississippi, however, and thus many have questions and concerns about them.

Charter schools are public schools that receive government funding but enjoy more independence from state and district regulations. The schools sign a contract (“charter”) with an authorizer, and are bound to follow the accountability measures stipulated by the contract.

Charter schools aim to raise the education bar by introducing competition into the public sector. Research suggests that when public schools face competition from nearby charters, public school students’ academic achievement increases.

Proponents argue that charter school students achieve better academic results than those in regular public schools. High levels of parental and student satisfaction and lack of teacher union involvement are also strong points in the eyes of charter school supporters.

Opponents, however, fear that charter schools are fueling segregation and harming public schools by isolating lower performing students. Some question whether or not charter schools employ experienced teachers. Opponents also argue that the majority of charter schools show only minimal achievement gains, if any at all.

Core to the charter school movement is the belief that parents should be able to choose the appropriate school for their children, especially given the perceived weakness of today’s public schools.

Do you think Mississippi education will improve or decline with more charter schools?

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