When you start teaching, you can start working in either public, private or charter schools. Where can you settle and find solid ground to flourish as a teacher? Each school has their pros and cons; deciding to be in one does not make you an enemy of the other, because there are valid reasons for why you believe you can be the best educator you can be in certain settings.
Charter schools are publicly funded and privately run under a charter of educational authority. Thus they’re held accountable for themselves. If there is poor management or consistently low test scores, the school would be shut down. You can trust that most charter schools are continually trying to provide the best education that they can for their students. Make sure to do your research on the specific schools you want to work at, but here are some of the general perks of being in the charter system.
1) More Autonomy
There are fewer regulations constraining how teaching should be done in the classroom. This allows schools to specialize and teach with different methods. Less red tape allows you to use more innovative solutions to any problems you face in your classroom.
You are allowed to teach the material typically by any means necessary. You can get creative in order to meet the needs of all your students! If you believe that your English class would be far more effective by including lessons about fundamental writing skills, then you have the freedom to do it. If you want to replace all of the chairs with yoga balls, you can do that too! You won't be confined to static methods that you see first-hand aren't working for your students and you're not forced to add in curriculum that you believe is unhelpful.
Charter schools recognize that each classroom is a unique community. What works well for one class may not work for another. If you value the anonymity to utilize various teaching styles for your students, then you might have a better teaching career with the charter system.
2) Meaningful Relationships
Having small schools promotes closer relationships with the school community and you won't be just one educator of a huge population of students and staff. Not every charter school will be small, but they are generally smaller than public schools. Class sizes matter when you’re in a crowded classroom with not enough chairs or individualized time for each student. Teaching effectively can become very difficult and less fulfilling than you hoped it would be.
You can build personal relationships at charters schools that lasts longer than being in class. Schoolteacher Paula Garcia appreciated charter schools for the "sense of family you find" that "would be hard to find in a typical school setting." Growing up, she felt immense support and inspiration from the educators in her life; some educators even remained as her mentors throughout college!
Garcia believes that she can become one such inspirational educator in a charter school that helps her to grow along with her students.
3) Committed Parents
Parents of charter school students are just as devoted to education as you are.
They tend to be more involved in their children’s’ education because they most likely researched potential schools before choosing a particular charter school. Parents become more engaged with the community in charter schools, so teachers have more moral and emotional support to do their jobs. Teachers can also work with parents to better tailor the curriculum for each student.
4) Protection from District Regulations
The charter system has to follow some of the basic district policies such as standardized testing and pay scales, but not everything, such as ones that seem nonsensical. The system can escape from a lot of county-level mismanagement done by people who may know little about teaching first-hand. One educator recounted how it was once decided that every middle school English should simultaneously read the same book without even providing funding for the books. Teachers all had to somehow incorporate a book that they didn't want into their already static and packed curriculum.
On the other hand, charter schools don't need to accept these kinds of changes and teachers can choose to teach the way they think is best for their students.
5) Increased Diversity
The student populations have become increasingly more diverse. Charter schools cover costs of attendance with many scholarships, and often offer free tuition. There are schools that make an effort to allow children from all levels of socioeconomic status to pursue the kind of education they want.
Public schools typically have a large population of students from a small geographic area. The students often come from families with similar socioeconomic levels. Private schools have a higher chance of being homogenous in their school population.
The charter system isn't perfect, but it has the capability to provide the resources and support that teachers need to teach effectively. Many kids enjoy opportunities that they may not have in public school. However, teaching in a charter school doesn't mean you lack awareness of the many disadvantaged kids who lack resources to help them. This is a problem with the system that needs to change and isn't your fault as a teacher.
In a WeAreTeachers blog, one educator stated,
"I'm a teacher. And the only way I know to make the world better is to teach to the best of my abilities in an environment that will allow me to do so. My school won't fix the system, and that's not okay. But with the number of kids we send to selective schools and then to outstanding colleges (always on full scholarships), maybe one of my students will. It's the best contribution I know how to make."