Balancing Autonomy with Oversight
Charter Schools and the Charter system are not new. The first Charter School was set up in East St Paul, Minnesota in 1992 by a Board of Teachers to foster pedagogic innovation. Today, the Charter system enrolls about 3.1 million children across 43 states.
Charter Schools are public but not owned by the traditional school district though they will receive funding from that district. They are typically overseen and monitored by that district. Their independence is limited due to their essentially public nature. So, in common with a traditional public school, they must be free, must not teach religion, and must enroll children without discrimination. Indeed, because the Charter School is not owned by the District School Board, they can enroll children from outside the district, thereby offering education to groups of children who may not otherwise have access to good quality teaching.
Oversight and Charter Authorization
Typically, a Charter School’s Charter comes up for reauthorization every three to five years. The Charter’s reauthorization is predicated on exam results, school finances, and graduation rates, the same criteria upon which any public school would be judged. The State or District Authorizing Board will determine whether to extend the Charter to the current operator, hand the Charter to a new operator, or close the school.