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Charter Schools on the Rise: What You Need to Know (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 5, 2010

Charter School Facts

  • Charter schools are public schools that receive greater autonomy in exchange for more accountability. They are created by state law and are currently located in 40 states, plus Washington, D.C. They are funded with public money and must take students through an open admissions process, just like traditional public schools—but they are schools of choice.
  • Charter schools don't receive special status. Because advocates for charter schools create rules that may differ from public schools in a state, many people think the schools are exempt from all state and federal laws, O'Neill said. In fact, charter schools must follow all federal education laws. Under the charter concept, local government approves a contract with the charter school organizers who must show that the school is succeeding, or the governing authority can simply decide not to renew the contract.
  • Charter schools must address the needs of students with disabilities. Not only do charter schools have to take the students who apply, there are charter schools set up to specifically serve special education students, O'Neill said. An example is the New York Charter School for Autism in East Harlem, with its 1 to 1 teacher-student ratio.
  • Virtual charter schools are becoming popular. While charter schools are more commonly seen in urban areas, virtual charter schools have begun to surface. These schools are online, with an online instructors and curriculum. The Provost Academy opened this year as a virtual charter school in South Carolina for 1,500 students. "Often the piece that's missing for charter schools is the money for the facility," O'Neill said. Virtual charter schools can provide an answer where there is no brick and mortar facility.

Curious about charter schools? Visit our Charter School Information Center or get answers using JustAsk.

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