I have worked for over twenty years in the charter public school sector – as a founder, board member, consultant, and more. In that time, I have heard my fair share of charter school misconceptions from opponents and supporters alike.

It is so important for charter public school supporters – including school leaders and staff, board members, parents, and even students – to know the facts and to be able to use them to combat this misinformation. Below are some common misconceptions about charter public schools. In your own community, some of these misconceptions may be more prevalent than others. There may also be misconceptions specific to your particular school or school model.

I encourage you to consider the misconceptions that exist and find ways to incorporate and reiterate charter school facts in your communications with your staff, board, parents, and students.

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Misconception
Facts

“Charter schools are private schools.”

  • Charter schools are public schools.
  • Charter schools have been part of the public school landscape in Colorado since 1993.
  • Like all public schools, charter schools are tuition-free and open to all.
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Misconception
Facts

“Charter schools are not part of the local community.”

  • Charter public schools are one piece of the public education landscape.
  • In one geographic area, there may be traditional public schools, charter public schools (overseen by the school district or CSI), innovation schools, private schools, and more. All are part of the community.
  • Both CSI charters and district-authorized charters are part of the community and serve the families that live in that community. They are all part of the public school family.
  • Charter public schools are overseen by local boards, which can be comprised of parents and other local community members.
  • Those seeking to open a charter public school must clearly demonstrate community need and support in their proposed location as part of the application process.
  • Charter public schools regularly partner with their local communities for everything from food service to transportation to extracurricular programs.
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Misconception
Facts

“Charter schools do not serve all students.”

  • Charter public schools serve all students.
    • Overall, charter schools in Colorado serve student populations that largely mirror the demographics of the state.
    • CSI schools serve students that are reflective of the state average for emerging multilingual learners, students of color, and students with a 504 plan. CSI schools continue to see increasing enrollment of students with special needs.
  • Charter public schools are open to all.
    • Like all public schools, charter public schools must use a fair and transparent enrollment selection process. Additionally, Rule and law prohibit discrimination based on academic ability or the need for special education services.
  • Charter public schools offer unique educational models to meet the unique needs of their communities.
    • CSI schools offer sixteen unique educational models—including Early College, Alternative Education Campus, Waldorf, Classical, and Montessori—to best meet the needs of their communities.
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Misconception
Facts

“Charter schools are not held accountable.”

  • The state holds all public schools, including charter public schools, accountable for academic performance.
  • Charter public schools are accountable to their charter authorizer for meeting local, state, and federal requirements.
  • CSI holds its schools accountable for academic performance as well as financial and organizational performance.
  • CSI offers its schools the flexibility to choose the educational models and methods that best meet the unique needs of their students and communities and holds its schools accountable to clear expectations for academic, financial, and organizational performance.

It is important to be familiar with these facts and to share them whenever you encounter misinformation about charter schools so we can effectively combat misinformation in our communities.   

CSI has developed a resource to have handy – feel free to use and share widely!

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