Let’s get the facts straight on charter schools

By elliereynolds

Charter Schools have been operating in Colorado since the passage of the Colorado Charter Schools Act in 1993. Today there are 218 charter schools in Colorado, serving 98,000 students. Charter schools have undoubtedly changed public education in many positive ways, but they still have their critics – most notably from the teachers unions.

Why don’t teachers unions like charter schools? Because they feel threatened by them. Charters have the ability to keep their teachers to unionize, and many have taken this course. Many of the attacks on charter schools misconstrue facts, use misinformation and are even blatant lies. So, let’s get the facts straight on charter schools.

1. Charter schools are open to all children and there are no special entrance requirements. Regardless of area of residence, household income level, child’s discipline record, their extra curricular activities and even the students GPA.

2. Charter schools do not charge tuition. The schools are given funds from the school districts they serve.

3. Demographics among charter schools are more diverse than traditional neighborhood schools. Nationally, Black students comprise 29 percent of charter students. In traditional schools, the Black student population is only 16 percent. Hispanic students make up 27 percent of charter schools in comparison to 23 percent in traditional public schools.

4. Charter schools perform. A 2013 Stanford University research study found that minority and low-income students in charter schools were learning faster than traditional schools. As well as Colorado schools out performing the neighborhood schools in reading growth and proficiency, math proficiency, and writing growth and proficiency.

5. Funding is one of the largest obstacles charter schools face. While opponents argue that districts are giving more money to charters, this is couldn’t be more wrong. According to a 2014 study from the University of Arkansas, charter schools in Colorado are currently operating at 20.2 percent less state funding than the traditional public school on a per pupil basis. Additionally, charters are only given the per pupil revenue for the number of children they are serving. The charters have to cover the rest of their costs through fundraising and grants.

6. Charter schools allow for choice. Whether it’s a science and math S.T.E.M. school or a school like Liberty Common High School in Fort Collins, where parental oversight is key in the institution.

This sets the record straight on the misinformation being spouted by the naysayers (a.k.a. teachers unions) and provides the real facts on charter schools. While they operate differently than traditional public schools, they ultimately have the same goal as neighborhood public schools – to provide the best education possible to all children. Taking a look at these facts, though, it’s clear charters schools are doing more with less and achieving positive outcomes in public education.