Public Charter & Traditional Public Schools – The Basics

March 18, 2011 at 10:11 am Leave a comment

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Community Meetings Open Dialogue About Education in East Austin, some of the misconceptions about charter schools are arising in some of the conversations about East Austin Prep’s plan to build a full service community school for the East Austin community in the Govalle/Johnston Terrace neighborhood. These misconceptions feed the idea that public charter schools and traditional public schools are at, or should be at, odds with each other. When in reality, they really are related and have the same goal: educating students in order to ensure success in life.

According to US Charter Schools, the original intent for the development of charter schools was to find new ways to educate kids. It was one version of the education reform we have been seeking for decades: “The term “charter” may have originated in the 1970s when New England educator Ray Budde suggested that small groups of teachers be given contracts or “charters” by their local school boards to explore new approaches.”

Interestingly, it was originally thought that the traditional public school system would benefit from innovative programs the public charter schools were given a level of autonomy to develop. And that when student success through the programs was demonstrated, it may be easier for traditional public schools to integrate a proven program into their curriculum.

But before we can embrace that type of opportunity, the misunderstanding about what role the public charter school plays in our education system needs to be cleared up. And perhaps some basic understanding about the differences between public charters and traditional public schools is a way to start.

Here is a bird’s eye view about similarities and differences between the two types of schools:

Public Charter School

  • Public school (receive state funds based on the average daily attendance of students).
  • Must meet the testing standards dictated 
by the state.
  • Take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test.
  • Created by community members addressing a specific need in a neighborhood or community.
  • Accountable for academic results and for upholding their charter.

Traditional Public School

  • Public school (receive state funds based on the average daily attendance of students).
  • Must meet the testing standards dictated 
by the state.
  • Take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test.
  • Receive funds from local tax revenue.  Receive state facilities funding.
  • Accountable for compliance with rules and regulations.
– Narissa Johnson
External Communications Manager
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Entry filed under: Community Empowerment, Education.

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