Since Washington voters approved the charter school law in 2012, there have been many questions about public charter schools. What are they? Will they work for my child? How can I learn more?
Charter schools are a type of public school. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for more accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to personalize and improve student learning.
Here are five things you might not know about charter schools in the Evergreen State.
- Charter schools are public schools in every way that counts. This means they are, and always will be, tuition free. It also means that all students are welcome, regardless of household income, language level, or special education needs. And while charter schools have more flexibility to innovate and personalize curriculum to meet individual students’ needs, they are held to strong, meaningful accountability standards.
- All eight of the new schools set to open in fall 2015 have met their enrollment targets. That’s nearly 1,200 students who are looking forward to school starting in the fall, showing strong community and parental support for public charter schools. Additionally, eight more groups have announced their intent to apply to open new public charter schools in fall 2016 or later. For many of those students, it’s their first opportunity to choose an academic program based entirely on their own unique needs and desires.
- Washington has one of the strongest charter school laws in the nation. Approved by voters in 2012, our law ensures fair, yet rigorous oversight and accountability—giving parents and policymakers assurance that if schools aren’t fulfilling their obligation to provide students a high-quality education, they won’t be allowed to continue as a school.
- Every approved public charter school will be responsive to their community. Most public charter schools will be led by local educators and community members who are inspired to make a difference at home. All have established deep ties to their communities, so teachers and administrators will be driven to provide the best quality education they can to benefit students and families. Teachers at these new public charter schools are given more flexibility to personalize and customize curriculum for individual students.
- Charter school leaders are always learning more. The Washington State Charter School Association Annual Conference brings together hundreds of participants to learn and share best practices. School leaders also benefit from an intensive leadership training and planning process supported by WA Charters to help turn their vision into reality. All eight schools opening this fall participated in our school leadership program.
Charter schools are just one important tool in the broader public education system. With eight new charter schools opening in the fall, Washington families will have additional, high-quality education options for their kids.
If you have not already signed up, register today and join us at our second annual WA Charters conference May 7th and 8th in SeaTac, WA!