Charter Schools: Why they Rock

By Shelly Russell, Principal at Littleton Academy- Littleton
Posted

With tightly defined privileges and purposes, charter schools in Colorado have forced the momentum into a movement.

Offering choice in education, in a tuition-free public school, charter schools are exciting and innovating while raising the academic achievement and behavioral standards in the United States.  Because charter schools are required to publish testing data as required by other public schools, a competitive environment creates incentive for schools of choice and traditional public schools alike. Consistent positive achievement is possible in a charter environment.

Research has found that “. . . charters’ performance varies . . . by operator, by geography, and by school philosophy,” so in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, why do charter schools rock? Many have found, like the University of Illinois’ professor Lubienski, “it is the option in and of itself.”

In Littleton, we are surrounded by high performing, traditional public schools in the Littleton, Cherry Creek, and Douglas County school districts, yet we continue to have a robust waiting list to be drawn in a once-a-year random lottery for entrance into our charter school.

Why? We offer parents and educators a choice and a voice. With state funding for K-12 education being cut each year, and despite furloughs and salary freezes elsewhere across districts, charter school parents choose to send their children to institutions with larger financial challenges than the rest-- as charter schools do not receive a proportionate share of education monies. Charter school parents have found, with almost equal demographics to traditional public schools in their area, stronger academic performance on both state and federal measures of student achievement.

In short, they rock.

And solid like a rock, charter schools stand on their philosophy of education and can retain staff and follow standards that adhere to that philosophy. Charters can match teachers and students to schools, not by selection but by attraction. And competition, marked by the presence and proximity of high performing neighboring schools, is better for education as a whole as hypothesized by researcher Hiren Nisar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Our charter school graduates remain inspired and engaged head and shoulders above their peers. They rock, as a product of choice and voice.

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