If you’re not sure whether you should send your child to a charter school or public school, then you’ll want to understand the differences between them. With so many schools out there, understanding the pros and cons of each can make your decision a lot easier. Let’s dive into the differences and explain what they mean for your child's education.
How Do They Operate?
One of the biggest differences between charter and public schools is how they operate. Typically, charter schools have more flexibility and therefore can make progress faster than traditional public schools. While both schools are run and operated, how they are operated is the difference.
Public Schools: Public schools are run in school districts that are run by locally elected school boards and superintendents. A superintendent’s job is to make sure that each school is enforcing the decisions the school board makes. Underneath the superintendent, is the principal, who sees the day-to-day operations. Because of this process, it can be difficult for traditional public schools to adopt progressive instructional models.
Charter Schools: Charter schools are run by independent board members who establish a charter contract. Under this charter contract, charter schools are legally bound to uphold and operate the school as stated in that contract. Because charter schools don’t have to go through so much red tape, they are able to make critical decisions about learning much more easily than most traditional public schools.
How Are They Funded?
Both charter schools and traditional public schools receive public funding. However, there are still some differences in how each school receives it's finances.
Public Schools: Public schools are funded through federal, state, and local funding. Typically this comes through in taxes passed through the state. In Arizona, the state requires school districts to contribute to the funding of their public schools, with the amount of the local share based on districts' property values and a minimum local tax rate.
Charter Schools: Charter school funding varies from state to state. While charter schools receive public funding, they usually will utilize private funding. In Arizona, in addition to a base support level from the state, charter schools are given equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding. Charter schools do not have access to local revenue from property taxes and bond measures; however, the state provides charters with "additional assistance" funds to make up for the lack of local revenues.
How Can You Enroll Your Student?
Both public and charter schools offer enrollment that is free and open to the public. They also both typically enroll students based on their locations. While they are both free education for your student, the enrollment process for each is different.
Public Schools: By law, public schools must accept all students within their location borders. There is also no admission fee or enrollment requirements in public schools. Because they must accept all students, this can grow beyond the school's resources and lead to crowded classrooms.
Charter Schools: Charter schools are technically considered public schools, so they cannot charge tuition or impose special entrance requirements. Like public schools, charter schools will enroll students until a capacity is met. Once it is met, students are generally admitted through a lottery process.
Here at James Madison Preparatory School, our sibling enrollment runs from January 24th to February 7th and our open enrollment runs from February 7th through the 28th. For more information about enrollments, call us at 480-345-2306.
What’s The Curriculum Like?
Arguably, one of the biggest differences between public and charter schools. For public schools, the public school district is what dictates the curriculum for the dozen schools that are in the district. Charter schools operate autonomously through individual agreements, or charters, with state or local governments that dictate rules and performance standards.
Public Schools: As mentioned above, public school curriculums are based on your state's education standards. Therefore, public schools must adhere to set standards and aren’t exempt from any state or federal laws regarding education. Public schools don’t have the freedom to change any of their curricula, meaning they may not be able to cater to an individual student’s needs.
Charter Schools: Charter schools typically offer both parents and students additional choices about the school’s curricular emphasis and where students attend school. Charter schools focus more on students' individual needs and implement strategies to educate students.
Here at James Madison Preparatory School, our mission is to challenge committed students with robust, traditional education, emphasizing America’s history and system of government. Our school combines a classical course of study with real-world knowledge and skills.
Check us out!
Are you interested in learning more about James Madison Preparatory School? Great! Give us a call! We’d be happy to go over some of the opportunities your student can have with us. We can’t wait to get to know you and your student more!