List of Pros and Cons of Charter Schools

Ever since the first charter school appeared in the U.S. in 1991, the debate over the advantages and disadvantages of this form of alternative education has been ongoing.

Pros of Charter Schools

1. More Choices
One of the most compelling arguments for charter schools is that they provide more choices for families. The local school may be too small or not have enough of an academic focus. Whatever the reason, parents should be able to have an alternative.

2. Encourages Competition
Another benefit of charters is that they encourage competition, which tends to cause schools to try harder and try to achieve more “client” (parents and students) satisfaction.

3. Improve Education
Many charter schools like Harlem Children’s Zone or the KIPP network are known for developing innovative new ways to teach or find other ways such as a longer school week to improve education.

4. Can Cater to Smaller Group of Students
Charter schools also have the advantage of deciding what kind of student they are catering to; they do not have to try to appeal to everyone and in the end not provide properly for anyone. Montessori school have already paved the way by deciding on a curriculum for a certain audience, and charter schools today are able to do the same.

Cons of Charter Schools

1. Decreased Funding
However, there are also some definite disadvantages of charter schools; one of the major drawbacks is having charters leads to less funding for the more traditional schools. It seems fiscally inefficient for the government to invest in two separate types of schools, which results in loss of funding for one type.

2. Lack of Equal Opportunity
Since charter schools can decide what type of student they wish to attract, which is considered beneficial by some, this means that not all students have equal opportunity to attend, which is seen as a disadvantage to parents of the non-targeted children. For example, less academically-able children may not be eligible, special education services may not be available, and low-income families may not be able to send their children to certain charter schools.

3. Less Accountability and Transparency
Charter schools are administered by private, not pubic bodies and may not have to give out the same information as public schools, which means there may be a lack of accountability and transparency. Charter school boards are usually not elected by the public; instead the charter organizations choose board members.

4. Decreased Diversity
Many people fear that charter schools will engender less diversity since there is usually a target market for each school, which could cause economic and racial divides. Even though the choices to use one charter school over another is driven by parental choice, the possibility of having more homogeneous schools is a worrying one for many people.

With over 5000 charter schools now operating in the U.S., the issues raised enter the ongoing debate. A consensus of whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages has not yet been reached; it seems clear that the arguments for and against should be considered and the issues raised taken into account before it is decided whether this alternative form of education is preferable to enrolling in a more traditional public school.