The growth of charter schools has been instrumental in the effort to improve educational opportunities for children. Charter schools have not only spurred innovation within the classroom, but they have given parents the ability to choose what is best for their kids.
Charter schools receive public funding but operate independently of the established public school system in which it is located. Since these schools receive public funding, school districts by nature are conflicted when it comes to approving charters schools. Adding new schools to the district creates competition and is a drain on the district’s finances. Therefore, strong charter school laws have been created to prevent these conflicting interests from getting in the way of what is best for our children.
Despite these charter school laws, charter schools are still faced with constant legal battles. At the heart of a legal dispute in Florida, one school district is fighting a charter school applicant on the notion that the charter must prove it is innovative and different from traditional district school programs.
However, the school district is not necessarily concerned about innovation. In reality, they are threatened by the competition charter schools provide. When you consider the fact that 19,000 students over the past five years have opted to make a choice to pursue charter schools, you realize why the school districts are concerned.
When it comes to educational opportunities for children, charter schools provide parents with choice. Charter schools allow parents to decide what is best for their children, instead of the zip code of their home. “Parent choice in and of itself is one of the most promising and proven innovations in our great state,” argues Jim Horne, former Florida commissioner of education.
At the end of the day, charter schools provide great opportunities to children. The data reveals that charters schools get results. If they do not get results, they are closed. They should not be viewed as a threat to education but rather a driving force in the fight for a better education across the board.
Many parents are simply dissatisfied with the education provided in their district. “That dissatisfaction is visible in the nearly 100,000 students on charter school wait lists in Florida annually,” explains Horne. “Parents of all types of children are choosing charters because they offer something new or different, and that in and of itself is “innovation.”
Although charter schools are innovative, their success should not hinge on how different they are from traditional schools. Instead, their success should be based on how effective they are teaching our children. The goal of charter schools is to simply provide a better education. Better educational opportunities should be encouraged, not fought, and the voice of the parents needs to be heard.