How to Decide on a California Charter School

Education has long been lauded as one of the five pillars of society. Which is understandable because of the supreme importance of having a perfectly functioning educational system for a community, a district, a city, a state and ultimately a country. Education has several notable roles but there are two that are quite critical. The transmission of the knowledge, wisdom, and mores of the community, in addition to being the bearers of tradition to the young and also to those who are new to that particular society. There has never been a civilization in recorded history that has not had education be their center. As it would be difficult to measure, or even have, progress without being able to credibly refer to the past, whether it be to acknowledge accomplishments or criticize non achievements. As a pillar of society, education should be as dynamic as it should be diverse. Geography, music, art, architecture, technology, religion, work, poetry, stories, games, sports all of these, and more, throughout the cultivation of an entire form of life is what educates the average human being’s mind. Essentially this means that the places where these things are learnt are to be revered and lauded. Especially since, the educational institutions of today, help to foster broader reflections on the cultural practices and experiences that shape the intellectual and moral characters of society – especially our younger members.

What Is The Educational Structure of The United States of America?

The United States of America educational structure consists of: elementary school, middle school, high school and college. Education is generally accessible either at public funded aka state schools or private schools which are not funded by the state or local government. Within these classifications there are schools with special dispensations known as charter schools. These, often elementary up to high, schools are, by and large, reliant on public funds (taxation) but are managed by independent groups or privately owned companies, so they could be either nonprofit or for-profit. Because they are funded through tax, charter schools do not require the student’s family to pay tuition. Charter schools also don’t have to follow the same rules and regulations as public schools, they are allowed far more freedom to set their own schooling hours and customize curriculum according to what, they feel, works best for their students. Charter schools’ curriculum models include, but are not limited to: college preparation, dual language immersion, performing arts, math, science, technology and much more. All academic programs must align with the Common Core State Standards, and charter school students must participate in state required standardized testing. Charter schools must also develop a Local Control Accountability Plan, which is a required component for the Local Control Funding Formula. Charter schools, thus called because of the ‘charter’ or contract that the private group has to sign to run the school, are not bound by the teacher’s union and so have the freedom to employ and fire teachers without much push back from the governance from state they are in. The state the charter school is in, however, plays a great role in requesting that accountability standards are met. Which is critical in making sure these schools stay funded and open.These standards vary from state to state so much so that there are some states that do not have any charter schools in them this is in stark contrast to the forty two states, plus the district of Columbia, that have multiple charter schools under their care. Although California lawmakers were the first to pass the law in 1992 allowing charter schools to operate, California was actually the second state to pass legislation allowing charter schools (Minnesota was the first). Since then Michigan charter schools, California charter schools and Arizona charter schools have been the ones in the United States with the highest student enrollment. But knowing that, exactly how do parents in California find which of the numerous charter school choices in the state to enroll their child?

Finding The Right Charter School in California

Because there are more than 1,300 charter schools in California, it might seem that there would be more than enough for any legal resident parent of the state to consider charter schooling a viable option. However, there are a couple of issues that may come into play before their child could be considered for selection. For example, although charter schools want to accept all students who want to attend. There often are more students who want to attend than there are places available, if that is the case then a charter school will use a process to randomly select students, oftentimes through a lottery system. How this lottery system works is that, if a charter school receives more students than it has spots available, it is required by Californian law to hold a lottery to determine which students will have the opportunity to attend. Because of its popularity, many charter schools have significant waiting lists and will admit more students from the waiting llist once these spots become available. But mostly students are selected with some geographical limitations which permit these charter schools to enroll only students from the county in California where they are authorized, or from nearby adjacent counties. To keep everyone happy, charter schools, unlike traditional public schools, are academically accountable in two distinctive ways. The families of the students, if they are dissatisfied with the charter school in any way, could remove their child from that school. If enough parents follow suit then enrollment will be severely affected causing loss of funding and subsequently possible closure. Charter schools are also held accountable by their authorizer; whenever a team of prospective school developers submit their charter petition, they must define their academic goals. To be authorized, their goals must be rigorous. In order to stay open, they must meet or exceed those goals. Under California law, charter schools must be renewed at least every five years by the school district or authorizer to ensure they have good academic results, and that they are operating in a fiscally and operationally responsible manner. The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) tries to enforce stringent academic accountability so that chronically underperforming charter schools are closed and the higher performing charter schools could be allowed to help even greater numbers of students achieve academic success.

Choice of the right charter school for a student is very important. It depends on a student’s individual needs and the type of  education arrangement and if that charter school offers the appropriate education services. Ultimately, the student’s parents and the charter school’s representatives make the final determination of the best educational option and services for the child in question.