Schools help shape us and define our early formative years. Given that schools play such a vital role in a student’s life, it is important that we select schools with programs that will be the most valuable for our children. With the increase in charter schools over the past decade, and the intense scrutiny that charters have endured recently nationwide, some are asking: what do charter schools have to offer?
According to MAPSA, Michigan’s charter school association, charter schools are free, independently-operated public schools that have the flexibility and autonomy to meet their students’ needs. They provide quality learning opportunities to all regardless of race, zip code, educational needs or income level.
Charters were created to offer accessible alternative school choices and channels for creative and innovative educational environments. Charter schools are an important piece of our educational system for at least one important reason: choice. Though they were born in response to a need for more options in education, current laws and regulations have brought some much-needed direction and structure to the charter model.
The key difference between charters and traditional public schools is how they are managed. They function under a contract or “charter” that governs the school’s operation. Charter schools have a mandate to form an agreement or an extended plan around learning ideas that can lead to providing all students with an excellent education that they can build upon at each stage of their lives. These schools are responsible and accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charters. They are required to demonstrate academic achievement, responsible financial management and organizational stability.
Another key difference between charters and standard public schools is the ability to explore innovative learning practices, which is what makes charter schools an attractive option to some parents seeking an alternative educational fit for their children. Because of this, many charter schools operate with an emphasis on college preparation, STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), core knowledge and virtual/online learning while incorporating basic skills such as building positive character traits and workplace skills. Families appreciate the direct link to accountability of stated goals and the unique and often innovative programs that charters provide. Parents and caregivers are now able to seek out schools that align with their personal values and their child’s learning style and interests.
At Cornerstone, we recognize the privilege of being a charter school and appreciate the opportunity to incorporate character and career pathways into our academics. Our goal is to equip students with the tools to lead a fulfilling life long after they leave our halls. We are thankful for the chance to do that every day.