Honest Answers to Common Questions About Charter Schools.

The education of a child is one of the most important parts of their life.

The average American child spends more than 16,777 hours of their life in elementary and secondary school. The school they attend has a very big influence on their growth and development, not just in academics, but also in their character.

Parents should have a say in their child’s education and school environment.

As charter schools become more prevalent in the education system, and more discussed in politics, it’s important that the rhetoric is true, whether it be positive or negative… This website is here to convey the truth regarding charter education.

Scroll down to learn about Texas charter schools more in depth.

What is a Charter School?

A charter school is a type of public school. The Texas Legislature authorized the establishment of charter schools in 1995. Charter schools are subject to fewer state laws than other public schools. The reduced legislation encourages more innovation and allows more flexibility, though state law does require fiscal and academic accountability from charter schools. The state monitors and accredits charter schools just as the state accredits school districts.
tea.texas.gov

Because they are public schools, charter schools are open to all children, do not charge tuition, do not have special requirements for admittance and are not associated with any religion.
Public charter schools vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students, many with needs beyond the one-size-fits-all traditional public school.
txcharterschools.org

1995

Texas Charters Introduced

675

Texas Charter Schools

272685

Students

141000

Students on Waitlist

Student Acceptance

Charter schools were built on the belief that ALL students and families deserve a choice when it comes to their education.

Who is allowed to attend a charter school?

The term “open enrollment” means any student can apply to the charter school. The school’s charter will specify any exceptions. Discrimination is prohibited in the admissions policy for all charter schools.
The school may only ask for basic information such as name, age, and address during the application process. Once a student is admitted and has registered and enrolled, the enrollment process begins. It is only then that the school may request information about past academic achievement, medical history, etc. tea.texas.gov

What if more students apply than the school can hold?

For a new school, if the amount of student applications exceeds the capacity of the school, the admissions policy will be based on a lottery process. A charter must use a lottery process when the number of applications to the school exceeds the number of available spaces (tea.texas.gov). For an existing school, current students have priority over new applications.

Accountability

Charter schools are accountable to state and federal law. Accountability is very important to charter schools because they face closure by the Texas Education Agency if they do not meet academic or financial standards for three consecutive years.

Do charter schools participate in state academic testing?

Charter schools are subject to the same academic testing as a traditional public school.

Are charter school financials available to the public?

Texas law requires charter schools to make their budgeting and financial statements available for public review on their websites. Example →

Are charter schools held to the same standard as traditional public schools?

Charter schools are subject to the same open record and open meeting laws, conflict of interest, accounting regulations, and must conform to all health, civil rights and safety regulations as a traditional public school.

Do charter schools have a locally-elected board?

Since charters do not receive or have any control over funding from the local community, there is not a locally-elected board. Charter schools do have boards that are accountable to the state just like traditional public schools.

Funding

The funding of a charter school or traditional public school never belongs to the school itself. The money belongs to the student. Charter schools in Texas receive state funds based on the average daily attendance (ADA) of students. This process is the same for independent school districts and for open-enrollment charter schools. The Foundation School Program (FSP) is the source for these funds. See Charter School Finance page for more information.
Unlike independent school districts, open-enrollment charter schools do not receive funds from local tax revenue.
tea.texas.gov

Do families pay to attend a charter school?

Open-enrollment charter schools may not charge tuition. They may only charge fees that independent school districts can charge (tea.texas.gov).
Charter schools are publicly-funded, tuition-free schools, just like a traditional public school. Any Texas resident can attend a charter school at no cost.

Do charter schools receive the same amount of funding as a traditional public school?

Charter schools receive 86% of what a traditional public school receives per student (txcharterschools.org) This is because they only receive state funding, unlike traditional public schools that receive state and local funding.

Do charter schools take money away from ISDs?

When a student enrolls in a public charter school, the funding follows the student. This is no different than when a student moves away or transfers to a neighboring school district. No ISD has had to shut its doors because of the negative financial impact caused by a local charter school.

Types of Programs

Charter schools are given the freedom to be creative in the types of academic programs they offer. All while still adhering to the same accountability standards of traditional public schools.

Some of the programs that charters offer are:

  • Flexible school day/year
  • Dropout recovery
  • Residential treatment center/juvenile detention center
  • Specialized mission
  • College preparatory
  • Classical-based curriculum
  • Virtual learning opportunities
Another innovative endeavor

by charter schools is their collaboration with ISDs. Sometimes trusted charter school operators are asked by the state to implement their system into a failing ISD so the community doesn’t lose their main academic option. There are some cases where a charter school runs special programs within an ISD for students who are interested in specialized areas of study, but also need a flexible learning system that can support additional learning within the area of study.

In the Classroom

What does the classroom look like at a charter school?

A charter school classroom can look very different from one school to the next. The layout and structure of the classroom is designed based on the learning program that the individual charter school implements. Program factors such as drop-out recovery, mastery-based, technology-first, “flipped” classroom, character-centered, classical, etc. can have an impact on the structure. If you are interested in a charter school, it is best to visit the campus to be sure it’s the best fit for you and your child.

Do Texas charter school teachers have to be certified?

It depends. Teachers at an open-enrollment charter school must have at least a baccalaureate degree. Special education or bilingual education/ESL teachers must have a state certification. The reason for this is because teaching certifications prepare teachers for traditional classrooms, and in many cases, the classroom environment and learning system is far from traditional. Even though certifications are not always required, all charter schools still have to meet the same academic requirements as a traditional public school. The governing body of a charter holder may set the qualifications for teachers at a standard above what state law requires.
tea.texas.gov

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