A public charter school is a public school that is organized differently than traditional district public schools. A public charter school is governed by an independent school board whose only focus and responsibility is that particular school, allowing them to be hyper-responsive to the needs of students and families enrolled in them. In exchange for this independence and freedom, charter schools operate under contracts (or “charters”) that allow them to be closed or replaced for failing to reach specific academic and non-academic goals, or for failing to operate in a responsible manner.
Because they operate outside of a traditional school district, charter schools are able to adjust curriculum to meet students’ needs and give teachers the ability to try new methods to help students learn. With that flexibility to develop personalized teaching practices, student learning and results improve to help underserved students achieve at high levels.
Currently, only families in St. Louis City and Kansas City have the choice to send their children to a charter school.
The charter school movement has had a major impact on the educational landscape in these two areas, providing families with quality educational options and helping to spur traditional districts to improve as well.
This year the state legislature will be considering a variety of legislation that will both help to expand the possibility of charter schools to other areas of the state as well as improve accountability for existing charter schools.
Charter schools offer an alternative to traditional districts, supplementing not replacing existing school districts.
While the legislation being considered would make it possible for public charter schools to open in new areas of the state, that will only become a reality if there are enough families that want an alternative to the existing public education.