by Amy Tjaden
Homeschool.com News Editor
With all the talk about different methods of homeschooling, I thought I’d take some time to give a brief overview of some of the options that are out there. Today I’ll discuss charter schools.
Charter schools are a fairly new concept, having only been around since the early 90s. Charter schools fall under the same laws and regulations that govern public schools but without the bureaucracy. For all intent and purposes, charter schools are public schools. But they offer choice. Families can choose which schools in which to enroll their child. This can allow families to choose a school which best meets the need of their child.
Charter schools usually have small class sizes, which is appealing for many parents. Some charter schools offer flexible hours that make them appealing for those families that want more of a homeschool approach and more time with their children.
Charter schools have been called the cornerstone in education reform. However, a recent study found that charter schools, overall, do not deliver better academic gains than traditional public school. In fact, the report stated that 37 percent of charter schools actually performed worse than regular public school.
I know of a handful of families involved in local homeschooling groups who use charter schools. If that is what works for them, then great. The only issue I have with charter schools is that many of them employ what they call “homeschool programs”. I feel this is manipulation on the part of the school. Isn’t it just a way for the public school system to get their hands on our kids?
I have talked with one mom who is constantly complaining about the demands of the charter school her daughter is enrolled in. They have to meet with a teacher on a regular basis. They are told which curriculum to use. They are given deadlines.
For our family, charter schools are too much like public school. It just goes against our own philosophy on what learning is. We homeschool because we like the freedom and flexibility that goes with it. I do not want someone standing over my shoulder telling me what and how to teach my children.
However, charter schools are a great alternative for many, especially for families with two working parents. Some parents choose charter schools because they want the peace of mind of having transcripts. They want that accountability. Some families who are just testing the waters of homeschooling choose charter schools because they’re just not ready to take the plunge. I get that.
Whatever the reason, charter schools are an option. They are just one of many options available when it comes to homeschooling. In my next article I’ll look at virtual schools.
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