As the tides of our American education system begin to change there has been a lot of public debate over the effectiveness of charter schools. You may be wondering, “what exactly are charter schools?” And you’re not alone. While charter schools have been around since the 1970s they have only been recently popularized and made available to local families. Since then we have fielded questions and as to the difference between a charter school and a private school.
Charter schools are essentially public schools, and like public schools, they are funded largely through tax dollars. And while the rules around charter schools are looser than traditional public schools, and they can choose to focus on certain populations or certain subject matters (like STEM or the arts) they actually receive less funding per student than their public school counterparts. Private schools, on the other hand, are far less dependent on state funding which allows us to be more flexible and innovative and to design our school in such a way that meets our students where they are and provides a healthy environment where the whole family can grow together.
Unlike private schools, charter school students are required to take the same state-mandated standardized tests as public schools in order to be promoted from grade to grade. In private schools, we believe that not every student fits into a standard category and that tests like these don’t do a sufficient job of capturing a students’ success in their education.
Charter schools are frequently referred to as “schools of choice,” which is not untrue. For many students, the choice between public and charter schools is a valuable one. However, the original schools of choice, private schools, have for many decades been allowing students and their families the choice opt into a high-quality education with small classrooms and a commitment to educating the whole student: mind, body, and spirit. Plus, private schools generally offer scholarships which ensure socioeconomic diversity and provide excellent educational opportunities to students whether they can afford it or not.
We hope this shines a light on the differences between private and charter schools. Not to spurn the value of charter schools but to help families make informed decisions about the type of educational system that would work best for their children. All children are different and varying school options means there are more opportunities for families to find the right school that will make their children successful. If you’d like to learn more about St. Barnabas’ many student success stories, and about how your whole family may find a place in the St. Barnabas community, contact us today.