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What are the differences between public and charter schools?

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Quick Answer

The differences between public and charter schools are that charter schools are public schools of choice, have some freedom from the regulations public schools face and operate under a charter, states UncommonSchools.org. Charter schools must demonstrate organizational stability, financial management and academic achievement. If a charter school does not perform, it may be closed.

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Full Answer

Charter schools are schools of choice in that families elect to send their children to them. In the case of public schools, property and district lines determine where families send their children.

Because charter schools have some freedom from the regulations faced by public schools, they operate with more flexibility. This flexibility provides greater freedom in staffing, managing the budget, choosing curriculum and implementing innovative educational programs. In exchange for this flexibility, charter schools are more accountable for raising student achievement.

Charter schools operate under their governing charter. Public schools do not have a charter. The charter establishes all aspects of the school, including its name, mission, organization and curriculum. The charter also defines the methods of assessment and the measures of student performance.

Similar to public schools, charter schools receive public funding and cannot charge tuition. Their enrollment must be open and equitable. They must serve all populations, including English language learners and students with disabilities. They must participate in state assessments and federal accountability programs.

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