Monday, October 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Charter Schools in Florida

In Florida parents have options for education for their children.

• Public Schools

• Private Schools

• Parochial Schools

• Montessori Schools

• Home Schooling

• Virtual Schooling

• Charter Schools

The Examiner is exploring Charter Schools in our state. In Florida Charter Schools is one of several options that parents consider for their children. Take the time to see if a Charter school is right for you and your family.

What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations that have a contract or charter to provide the same educational services to students as district public schools. They are nonsectarian public schools that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.The "charters" establishing such schools are performance contracts detailing the schools’ mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success. The length of time for which charters are granted varies, but most are granted for 3-5 years.

At the end of the term, the entity granting the charter may renew the school's contract.

Charter schools are accountable to their sponsor, usually a state or local school board, to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract. The basic concept of charter schools is that they exercise increased autonomy in return for this accountability. They are accountable for both academic results and fiscal practices to several groups: the sponsor that grants them, the parents who choose them, and the public that funds them.

What is the purpose of charter schools?

The Florida Charter School Statutes require charter schools to be guided by the following principles:

* To meet high standards of student achievement while providing parents the flexibility to choose among diverse educational opportunities within the state's public school system

* To promote enhanced academic success and financial efficiency by aligning responsibility with accountability

* To provide parents with sufficient information on whether their child is reading at grade level and whether the child gains at least a year's worth of learning for every year spent in the charter school Additionally, Florida charter schools are authorized to fulfill the following purposes:

* Improve student learning and academic achievement

* Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on low-performing students and reading

* Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including ownership of the learning program at the school site

* Encourage the use of innovative learning methods

* Require the measurement of learning outcomes, along with creating innovative measurement tools

* Provide rigorous competition within the public school district to stimulate continual improvement in all public schools

* Expand the capacity of the public school system

For more FAQ for Florida Charter Schools – visit the list of frequently asked questions including finding the nearest Charter School in your city.

For more info: Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Florida Public Charter School 2009 Fact Sheet

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