NYC Firm Schools vs. Charter Schools

by NYC Firm Schools on March 16, 2009

Douglas Town Hall
Creative Commons License photo credit: Svadilfari

Many families entering the search for the right private school or other educational alternative in NYC have asked about the difference between private school and charter schools. Many school websites list themselves as “Independent Schools,” but that doesn’t really translate into a specific definition.

The facts about Charter Schools:

  • Charter schools in the US can be either elementary or secondary schools
  • Charter schools receive public money but do not have to abide by the same rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools
  • Charter schools do have to provide accountability by producing certain academic results, which are set forth in each school’s charter.
  • Charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, but because they are still a part of the public education system, they cannot charge tuition.
  • Charter schools cannot base admission by competition, and so frequently allocate seats by lottery.

Who starts Charter schools?

Some charter schools are founded by teachers, parents, universities, government entities, for-profit corporations or non-profit groups.

The issues surrounding Charter Schools

Start up charter schools are often the most vulnerable and often plagued by resource limitations, particularly inadequate startup funds. Some schools, however, have no problems with funding, particularly those founded by private foundations such as the Gates Foundation or the Walton Family Foundation.

How do Charter Schools measure up?

As with all academic programs, individual schools can vary so much that to group any into a specific pass or fail category would be almost impossible.

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education found that in five case study states, charter schools were out-performed by traditional public schools in meeting state performance standards. They did, however note that “It is impossible to know from this study whether that is because of the performance of the schools, the prior achievement of the students, or some other factor.”

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