Why a Charter School?

What is a Charter School?

A charter school in Colorado is a tuition-free public school established by a group of parents, teachers and/ or community members as a semi-autonomous public school of choice that operates via a contract or “charter” between the school’s board and an authorizer, such as the local school district or, in some cases, the Colorado Charter School Institute.

Did you know? 

There are 261 charter schools in Colorado, including 18 in Douglas County, educating over 130,000 students.  That is 15% of all public school students!  Across nearly all achievement categories, charter schools outperform state averages.

Educate Yourself on the Facts:

  • A charter school in Colorado is a public school that is tuition free and open to all students.
  • A charter school generally has more flexibility than traditional public schools in regards to curriculum, fiscal management, and overall school operations, and may offer an education program that is more innovative than traditional public schools.
  • Charter schools are held to the same standards and assessments as other public schools.
  • Charter schools choose their mission and vision.
  • Charter schools have the freedom to determine the length of their school day and year.
  • Charter schools have the freedom to hire teachers and staff without contract limitations.

Charter School Myths:

Myth: Charter schools drain money from the public schools.
Fact:  Charter schools are public schools. The money that follows the students who choose to attend charters remains in the public education system. In Douglas County, a portion of the per pupil revenue passed along to a charter school remains with the school district.

Myth: Charter schools endanger the public school system.
Fact: The entire public school system is strengthened when choices such as charter schools are available to students and families. When families are empowered to make decisions about their child’s education, ownership, parental involvement and accountability are increased. Having a choice is beneficial for all.

Myth: Charter schools do not accept all students.
Fact:  Charter schools prohibit discrimination based on academic ability. Diagnostic or placement exams may be given to students after they have been officially enrolled. As with all public schools, a charter school may create eligibility thresholds for enrollment that are consistent with their area of focus or grade levels, but the school’s methods for determining eligibility cannot be designed, intended, or used to discriminate on the basis of a child’s knowledge, skills, or disability. 

Myth: Charter school teachers are not licensed.
Fact: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) does not require that a charter school teacher have a teaching license, but charter schools are required to comply with all other NCLB requirements regarding “Highly Qualified Teachers.”

Sources: The Colorado Department of Education, The Colorado League of Charter Schools, and The ACT Advocacy Network