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Charter schools - Page 2

post #21 of 28
Sneezykids- you've been struggling with this issue for a few months now, it seems. I'd say listen to your gut- it really sounds as though this school isn't a good fit for your family.

I hope you find something that will work for you and dd!
post #22 of 28
It has been a huge stress for me. One thing I keep thinking about is middle school. The things middle schoolers are doing now scares the heck out me. Even if dd isn't into that stuff she'll still be exposed to it from just being in the school.
This is a compelling reason to keep her in the charter school. It goes to 8th grade and there are only about 45 kids in the whole grade. The kids wear uniforms there too.
I know I probably sound over protective. I just think middle school is the worst grades for peer pressure.
post #23 of 28
My ds was just "slotted" in our local charter school. I had wanted him to go there since he was 2 years old and the school opened. I know that each charter school is different, and I am happy to have a wonderful one right around the corner (we actually bought our house in this particular district so we had a better chance of getting in). I don't think they have any formal philosophy. The best way to explain it is project based and individualized. The class size is 16-18 kids, w/ a teacher and an aide, as opposed to the local public school which is 1:26-28. The kids are encouraged to be independant and there is a strong emphasis on behaving socially responsible. They do not receive report cards, thus won't be labled (A student, F student), instead we will be monitoring their progress w/ a checklist, more or less and the focus will be on their own personal learning cirriculum. (Because they are emphasising the child as an individual, there are no uniforms.) They are generally not assigned homework. There are ELA's (extended learning activities), however. Any work they did not complete in the time alotted during the school day can be brought home to finish, as well as some reading or interactive activities w/ parents. They also keep a portfolio, much like one a homeschooling family would have in PA. Plus, there is an open door policy, parents can come and go as they please. And are encouraged to do so! One big plus for me is they stress healthy eating. The children have access to a fridge and a microwave, so that really opens up some possibilities for lunch! The actual building is maintained by student, parent and staff volunteers and donations. I love the community feel the school has made! I know it will be a comfort to me when my children are in higher grades and they are spending more time with their friends; I will have a relationship w/ not only the child but their parents as well since there is a monthly work day for each home base where the child and parents come to the school to do any maintenance or improvements on the building, as well as monthly meetings. This is truly the only school I felt comfortable having my children attend. If they didn't get in, I was going to homeschool.
post #24 of 28
Jill- how wonderful!
Congratulations- it sounds like a great school.

(Miles wants to add some smilies...)

........and there's your typical six year old...
post #25 of 28
It is interesting to hear of experiences in a variety of charter schools. However, it is important to recognize that there is a huge variety of charter schools, and that they vary according to the particular state's legislation governing charter schools, and according to the individual charter.

Nationwide, charter school legislation has evolved primarily to accomplish the following purposes: to provide greater breadth of educational options for families, to motivate improvement in public schools by creating greater competition, and last, but not least, to provide states with a way of avoiding the rising costs of building and maintaining school buildings and facilities (Most charter schools provide their own buildings and facilities).

I am a teacher in a charter school in Arizona that happens to be a Montessori school. Arizona has some of the most liberal charter legislation in the country, and is one of the states with the most charter schools. Here, as everywhere else, parents must do their homework in choosing the right school for their child. There are both "bad" and "good" charter schools. Parents need to review the charter, visit the school, interview the staff, read the handbook, observe classes, talk to other parents, and determine the fit for their child. There are definitely tradeoffs. Sometimes they're worth it, and sometimes they're not. It depends on the individual family and child. It pays to educate yourself. "The price of freedom is responsibity."

The only absolutely common characteristics among charter schools are:

1) They are publicly funded. In other words, they do not charge tuition. (Some states allow charter schools to supplement their funding with school fund raising and special fees).

2) They have had their charter application reviewed, approved, and on file with the state in which the school is located. Requirements and governance vary from state to state.

3) They are legally bound to abide by their state approved charter. (These may be reviewed by contacting the state agency that oversees charter schools.)

4) Since most states accept federal funds to aid in education funding, and therefore charter schools are also funded in part by federal funds, they are required to abide by all federal mandates such as antidiscrimination policies, No Child Left Behind requirements, special education policies, and state testing guidelines. (Utah recently withdrew from accepting federal funds in order to opt out of the No Child Left Behind requirements.)

Beyond the above, very little is uniform in charter schools. Mission, goals, philosophy of education, teacher requirements and methods, admission policies, administrative procedures and polices, discipline policies, governing structures, as well as everything else varies greatly from one charter school to another.

Charter school legislation is providing families with many more educaitonal options for their children than was available even twenty years ago. But, as I said, in order to benefit optimally from the huge increase in choice, parents should act as educated consumers and do their homework.
post #26 of 28
Sneezykids: I don't know exactly where in the midwest you live, but here in Ohio we have access to a really great charter school called Ohio Virtual Academy. It is part of a broader selection of nationwide charters under a program called K-12 (http://www.k12.com/). It isn't available as a tuition-free charter in all states, just a handful, but it is awesome. Right now it goes up through 8th grade, and plans are in the works to keep expanding all the way through 12th. It is a homeschool, but with a fantastic boxed curriculum, field trips with other kids, and state testing, so you don't have as much paperwork. Kids all work at their own pace in all subjects.

Good luck with school matters, mama!
post #27 of 28
We're in AZ, and ds is starting K at a "Waldorf Inspired" charter school next month. We have lots of friends whose kids go there, and they all seem to love it and have only positive comments. We also considered a charter Montessori, but decided the Waldorf-based school would better suit ds' s personaliity. They do take state standardized test, and students excell overall on them, without the "teaching to the test" that occurs in a lot of schools. The curriculum includes an abundance of art and music, Spanish, lots of outdoor time, cooking, etc, along with very sound academics. We feel very fortunate to have this school in our community and are really hoping it works out. They just expanded to 8th grade and are working on adding 9-12 grades in the future.
post #28 of 28
[QUOTE=Greaseball]It seems like a lot of schools other than the traditional ones are geared either toward kids who aren't as smart, or who have behavior problems, or who are really really really smart and take college-level classes. What about schools for kids who just want something different to try?

My child doesn't go to a charter school, but we are looking into one. The one we are looking at is a Waldorf charter. I have no clue how they would meet the requirements set by CA and be a Waldorf school. I need to find that out. Here in CA, there is a required math curriculum and they are expected to begin reading in K. There is also a charter with an emphasis on Science and Technology, but I think that may be a high school. There is jr. high/high school with a focus on the arts. Here most of the charters do have themes and are for families with a different philosophy on education than the traditional public school or whose kids have special interests, not for kids with learning problems.
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