Charter schools create a range of emotions in those who support them, as well as in those that oppose them. There are many benefits to including charter schools in a public education setting, and the movement is becoming more refined and varied each year. There are some obvious benefits with a charter school, but there are many new benefits surfacing as creative educators begin to work with charter school students and teachers.
Parents and educators have become frustrated with traditional school structure. While some districts attempt creative solutions to dealing with large numbers of students, the reality is that it is difficult to provide much individual attention. Furthermore, it’s well-recognized that students are individuals and that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t appropriate when there are so many differences in interests, learning styles, and access to external activities and materials. The charter school creates a smaller learning community for students and teachers, but it operates in a public school setting with regard to standards and testing. Teachers and administrators adhere to district guidelines in the material covered, but they have freedom in instructional methods and materials.
In many cases, charter schools are conducted in a distance learning setting. Students are able to receive instruction through video, computer modules, or audio communication via live chat functions. Parents monitor the participation of their children in these academic activities and take responsibility for logging time spent by each child in the pursuit of their course goals. Educators interact with both children and parents to clarify when a concept isn’t understood, and educators handle the correcting of assignments and the assigning of grades. This provides the social environment of a homeschool with the academic integrity of a public school. Parents who want to homeschool but lack confidence in their teaching abilities are able to appreciate this hybrid approach, and educators have more confidence in the outcome when a certified teacher is overseeing the process.
Charter schools are perfect for exploring technological developments in the educational setting. Touchscreen technology is ideal for teaching children because it is so intuitive. Every major learning style is engaged in the use of a tablet computer, and powerful tablet apps are being written to engage students in interactive lessons. Immediate feedback carries amazing value for a child, allowing for much faster learning of basic concepts. Individual interests allow a student to research virtually any topic of interest in science, geography, or history. Ereading allows quick, simple access to an amazing library of literary choices. The use of the charter school environment for allowing students to gain access to tech directed learning is an exciting alternative to traditional settings in which the teacher is the disseminator of information.
Charter schools will continue to evolve in concert with technology. It will take time for the full impact of the setting to be seen in the lives of students participating in charter school programs. The accountability issue is important, and the involvement of licensed professionals lends to the credibility with both parents and education professionals.