What is a Charter School and What are the Benefits?

New parents trying to figure out their local school system will often discover other options in addition to the local public schools. You may hear about magnet schools, private schools, and charter schools.

The terms are confusing as parents navigate the options to determine the best fit for their child. Brooklyn Charter School is, as the name suggests, a charter school, so let’s take a look at what that means.

What is a Charter School?

A charter school receives government funding just like other schools in the district. Yet the school operates independently, with flexibility and autonomy from the regular school system. In exchange, the school must adhere to accountability standards; a school’s charter is reviewed periodically and can be revoked. Some charter schools are privately owned, while most operate as nonprofits.

Charter schools were first launched in Minnesota in the early 1990s. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of 2014–15, charter school legislation had been passed in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2016-17, there are more than 6,900 charter schools, enrolling an estimated 3.1 million students, outlined by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Here in New York, there are 257 charter schools, with more than 125,000 students — 4.66 percent of the total enrolled student population.

Who Can Attend

Charter schools are public, which means they are open to all children and do not charge tuition. There are no special entrance requirements for charter schools.

Why Choose a Charter School

Charter schools are some of the top-performing schools in the country; a higher percentage of charter students are accepted into a college or university. The approach is a partnership among parents, students, and teachers, giving all the freedom to innovate and adjust the curriculum. Many charter schools have a theme, such as performing arts, college preparation, language immersion, STEM education, or even meeting the needs of dyslexic students.

Charter schools may approach the idea of the classroom differently as well, moving things outdoors or combining online learning with classroom time. One study indicates charter schools often help improve learning and test scores for traditionally underserved communities, such as minority and low-income groups — even lowering the achievement gap in some cases.

That’s not to say every charter school is better than the local public school. Parents considering a charter school must review all their options and consider what is best for their child.

At Brooklyn Charter, we focus on educating the whole child with a proven approach that combines a model core academic curriculum with active programs in the visual arts, music, and dance, along with plenty of education in technology. Our approach is working: We are one of the top-performing independent charter schools in New York City, with a consistent history of outscoring both district and city averages in English Language Arts, Math and Science.

If you have more questions about charter schools or our approach, contact us to learn if BCS is a good fit for your child.

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