Fact vs. Fiction
Top misconceptions regarding charter schools
TRUTH: Every single charter school in America, without exception, is a tuition-free public school. Charter schools are publicly funded by local, state, and federal tax dollars based on student enrollment, just like all other public schools. Charter schools expand public school options for families that may be dissatisfied with their local schools, but cannot afford private school. Charter schools must meet the same academic standards that all public schools are required to meet.
TRUTH: Charter public schools are open to all students, regardless of past academic performance. Every charter school must have a fair and open admission process. Because they are free and open to all, charter schools can never engage in selective admissions policies. When enrollment requests exceed the number of seats, charter schools are required by law to hold a public lottery to determine who will attend. Like other public schools, charter schools are legally mandated to be non-sectarian and non-discriminatory in their admission practices.
Unlike magnet schools overseen by school districts, public charter schools cannot selectively admit students. According to federal law, they must accept all students, including students with disabilities and English Learners (ELs), regardless of previous academic performance.
REALITY: Federal law requires that all public schools, including public charter schools, provide students with learning disabilities with a free and appropriate education. When a student with learning disabilities is admitted to a charter school, that school must accommodate the learning needs of that student.
REALITY: Demographics for all charter school types include 46.31% White and 30.8% Black students enrolled in charter schools in Georgia. For start-up charters, numbers include 40% White, 45% Black, and 7.5% Hispanic.
REALITY: In California, public school funding follows the student, with the funding going to the public school the parents choose, whether a charter school or a traditional district school. When charter public schools are funded, there is no overall loss of public school money because charter schools are public schools. However, even with the funding “following the student” charter schools receive less funding for each student than a school district would if it were to serve the same student.
REALITY: In Georgia, charter schools receive LESS federal and state money than district public schools, for a variety of reasons.
REALITY: A charter is actually a performance contract. A charter petition must clearly define the proposed school’s academic goals – and these goals must be rigorous! In order to stay open, the charter school must meet or exceed those goals. Independent public charter schools are highly accountable for student performance and fiscal management, answering to parents, the state, and their charter authorizer. In Georgia the school authorizer is either the local school district or the State Charter Schools Commission. Charter schools that fail to perform academically can be closed more quickly than low-performing traditional public schools.