Uplift Voices

Why Are Charter Schools so Controversial?

There are plenty of things to debate when it comes to education. Teacher pay, book banning, and school safety are all controversial subjects, but right up there on that list is the topic of the steadily growing number of charter schools. It seems like no matter where you live, there are 1, 2, or sometimes even 3 public charter schools that operate near you. But why is this happening and why do people get so upset? 

The most common arguments about charter schools are that:  

  1. Charters steal kids and money from traditional public ISDs. 
  2. Charters are selective and operate like private schools. 
  3. Public charter schools don’t enroll students from historically underserved families. 
  4. Charter schools are not held accountable.  

 The reality is NONE of that is true.  

          1. TRUTH:  Charter schools DON’T steal money from local districts, parents just make a choice about their child’s education. 

In Texas, both traditional ISDs and public charter schools receive money from the state based on the number of students seated in their schools. If a charter school pops up near a traditional public school, the staff from the charter school does not walk into the public school and start picking out kids from the classroom to go to the charter. It’s the parent that reviews the options both schools offer, and if the parent isn’t satisfied with the traditional public school or finds the charter school more appealing, they exercise their choice to apply for their child to attend the charter.  Many charter schools are operated in areas where the local public school is not performing well, thus allowing parents options. 

          2. TRUTH:  Charter schools are public schools and are not selective with admission. 

Charter schools may NEVER charge tuition and are not allowed to create curriculum based in any religion. Since charter schools are public schools, it also ILLEGAL for them to discriminate based on race, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, previous academic scores, special education status, and anything under the sun that you can think of that may inhibit a child access from school, including the child’s home address. Many traditional ISDs can be seen as selective since you have to live a certain distance from the school in order to be able to attend.  

Charter schools on the other hand operate under open enrollment, which means if you fall in love with a charter school in Dallas, but live in Arlington, then you’re more than welcome to apply to attend.  For more information check out our blog on open enrollment. 

Uplift Education is the largest charter school network in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Uplift’s CEO, Yasmin Bhatia, said “at Uplift, we believe that anyone, regardless of their zip code or socio-economic background, is entitled to a free, high-quality education and we strive to make sure our scholars receive the tools they need to excel in any venture they pursue after leaving our doors.” 

          3. TRUTH:  Charter Schools primarily serve in communities with low socioeconomic families. 

While there are some charter schools that serve middle- and higher-income communities, most charter schools are established in areas with limited school choice for parents, which tend to be areas of lower income. In fact, public charter schools in Texas enroll a higher percentage of students from historically underserved families. 

Best Charter School Texas Education

“Uplift serves over 23,000 scholars across five cities,” continued Ms. Bhatia, “with 95% of those scholars being children of color and 78% economically disadvantaged. Our mission is to provide our scholars with the education and opportunities to empower them to be the generational difference-makers for their families.”  

          4. TRUTH:  Texas public charter schools are subject to the same, and sometimes stricter, accountability as traditional public schools. 

Open-enrollment charter schools are subject to the same A-F academic accountability rating system and the same Financial Integrity Rating System Texas (FIRST) as traditional ISDs in Texas.  

If a public charter school receives an “F” on the academic rating, or an “unacceptable” rating on the financial rating system for three years straight, the public charter school is automatically closed. 

Overall, outside of having the heavy misinformation tied to their names, charter schools are a healthy part of the educational ecosystem and can be a viable option for families. Charter schools create a healthy competition and strengthen the quality of education in a community while creating choice for parents. 

We’ve laid out all the facts about charter schools and dispelled some myths. Have you considered a charter school? If not, check out a few reasons why you should! 

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