As a parent, you make decisions every day that affect your children’s’ health, happiness, well-being, and even their future. One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make is which school your kids will attend. And while academic excellence is certainly one of the crucial criteria informing your choice of school, there are other elements that must be considered: the number and type of extracurricular activities, how dedicated and compassionate the staff and teachers are, the diversity of the student body, and the overall atmosphere where your child will be spending the majority of their days. Dr. Freda Deskin, CEO of ASTEC Charter Schools in Oklahoma City, wants to make the case for considering a charter school. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where charter schools have been established, they may very well represent the best decision for your children. Read on to learn why!
1. The More Choice, the Better
In rural communities, there may be only one public school available. In inner cities, public schools and their students often struggle with issues such as poverty, violence, high levels of teacher turnover (and burnout), and outdated or inadequate materials and supplies. There may be private schools to provide an alternative, but for families that are middle- to lower-class, a private-school education simply isn’t in the budget.
Enter charter schools. According to Freda Deskin, they provide the same quality education as private schools, but without the private-school price tag.
2. A Diverse Environment
At public schools, eligibility for enrollment usually depends on the student’s address. And that makes sense: bussing children from distant neighborhoods is an expense that most public schools, already strapped for funding, simply can’t justify.
Charter schools, on the other hand, are open to any student, regardless of where they live. This generally results in a much more diverse student body — and that, in turn, will enrich your child’s educational experience by exposing them to different cultures, customs, and viewpoints.
3. Greater Freedom — and Accountability
One of the major reasons parents choose charter schools for their children is the freedom these educational institutions generally have to develop and apply their own curricula, administrative model, and pedagogical approach. They can set policies and standards according to what’s best for the students — not just what’s least expensive, or what state-mandated programs require.
The other side of that coin, increased accountability, is yet another plus, says Freda Deskin. Because charter schools are accountable to the families they serve, they are motivated to meet high standards. If they do not meet their self-directed goals, parents will respond by transferring their students to another school.
4. Specializations Result In Better Education
What subjects make your children excited about learning? Where do their interests lie? Are they already setting their sights on a particular career path? While most public schools provide a basic education that covers the core subjects, charter schools are free to specialize in a particular area of education.
At ASTEC, Freda Deskin and her colleagues help inspire kids who enjoy science and technology. Other charter schools focus on the performing and/or visual arts, business and leadership, career and technical education, dual-language instruction, and so on. That isn’t to say that they ignore core subjects, but by providing specialized, in-depth instruction, charter schools engage their students and encourage them to follow their passion — leading to higher attendance rates and graduation rates, among other benefits.
5. Smaller Class Size
Public schools are often overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed. This means a much lower teacher-to-student ratio and much less opportunity for teachers to connect with individual students. Sometimes, all it takes to turn around a troubled child or a poor academic performer is a little bit of attention from their instructors. At charter schools, this type of connection is possible because of smaller classes as well as teachers who have the time and energy to build a relationship with each and every child.
Charter school advocates such as Freda Deskin say that there are many more benefits to this type of education. No matter what goals you have set for your children, or where their interests and strengths lie, there is a charter school that can help them achieve academic and social success.