About Charter Schools

Charter School Myths & Realities

Myth

Charter public schools select only the best and the brightest students.

Reality

Charter schools are public schools open to any child, free of charge.  If more children want to enroll in a school than it has space for, a random lottery determines who gets in—no admission hurdles, no entrance exams, no preferential treatment.

Myth

Charters do not reflect the diversity of the community. 

Reality

Statewide, charter public schools enroll twice the percentage of poor and minority students as district schools. In urban areas, charters do serve fewer English-language learners (ELL), but new recruitment efforts have dramatically increased ELL enrollment in the past few years. In addition, there are three new charter schools that are focusing primarily on ELL students.

Myth

Charter public schools are part of an agenda to privatize public education.

Reality

Again, charter schools are public schools. They are open to all students and admission is determined by random lottery—no entrance exams, no admission requirements. They are managed by public boards of trustees, abide by all the same laws and rules that district schools do, and are overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Nothing about them is private.

Myth

Charter public schools don’t pay their fair share of special needs services.

 

Reality

Charter public schools are under the same obligation as district public schools to provide in-school special education services. You may hear opponents say that some special needs children cost $150,000 a year or more to educate, and that charters should not be receiving money for these students. In fact, they don’t! Such children usually attend specially equipped independent (“out-of-district”) schools, so the cost is not included in the calculation that determines how much money charters receive.

Myth

Local communities have no meaningful say in the charter approval process.

Reality

Charter public schools were established to operate independently from the local school district, but they certainly are a part of the local community. They are founded by local parents, teachers, educators, and others. During the initial, year-long chartering process there are many opportunities for dialogue between community officials, other community members, and state education officials. In addition, the local government, school district, and teachers’ unions all have a voice during the chartering and renewal processes.