Charter Schools vs. Public Schools: The Right Choice for Teachers
What are charter schools? Charter schools are independent, publicly funded schools that lack regulation from the state and teacher’s unions, but must deliver a unique educational experience as set forth by the provisions of the school’s specific charter. Charter schools have the freedom to establish their own curriculum and govern their own finances. They do not charge tuition to students and serve as an alternative to schools that are part of the public education system. Teachers often employ innovative teaching techniques and establish a collaborative effort between themselves, parents, and students in order to deliver an atypical educational experience. Charter schools are cropping up more and more within the United States and such schools play a prominent role in the current national push for educational reform.
Are they better for teachers? Advantages
Teachers at charter schools are not subjected to the increasingly stringent teacher assessments set forth by the state. Throughout the nation, teachers are continually being held more accountable for the performance of his or her students’ on standardized tests. In New York State, Governor Cuomo has implemented one of the strongest teacher evaluation systems in the country. Job security is becoming increasingly delicate with the implementation of stringent teacher/student achievement standards as quality of instruction continues to improve. Teachers within charter schools are not subject to the careful evaluation of the state. With less pressure from the state to deliver test scores, many teachers feel a greater sense of freedom within the charter school landscape. Instead of teaching to the curriculum established by standardized testing material, many teachers feel as though they can experiment with unique teaching techniques offering their students a finer alternative experience. Bola Disu of the World Neighborhood Charter School in Astoria reports working for a charter “makes it easier for kids, teachers, and parents.” You can read more about her personal experience in this Scholastic article. In addition, teachers enjoy smaller class sizes and operate in a tight knit community of like-minded colleagues. The Charter School environment serves as a beneficial alternative to the often traditional public school atmosphere.
Without state intervention, however, comes the potential for less job security, lower pay, fewer benefits, and a high turnover rate. A study released by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education found that charter schools on average spend $1,140 less on instruction than traditional public schools. Therefore, on average charter school teaching professionals tend to earn a lower salary and fewer healthcare benefits. Also, many charter schools expect their teachers to work longer hours without the prospect of overtime. As a result, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) project that charter school teachers are far more likely to transfer to a different school. For many pursuing the teaching positions in search of a greater sense of financial and professional stability, public schools may offer the better option.
The Bottom Line
When first entering the workforce it is essential to consider all of the pros and cons of accepting a job at your prospective school district. When debating between charter schools vs. public schools, it is essential to do considerable research on the unique opportunities afforded to you by the particular district in question. In order to perform your best as an education professional, you must be comfortable with all aspects of the offerings of your new potential work environment.