Since it is summer, everyone starts thinking about what kind of schooling they want to do. This is the time to decide between public, private and homeschooling. Well, I have recently been asked what I think about charter schooling as a form of/alternative to homeschooling.
First, lets talk a little about what a charter school is. A charter school simply refers to the funding and oversite issues that apply to theses special public schools. Some are traditional schools and some are offsite schools. Not all charter schools are offsite schools. What I mean by offsite schools is that kids don’t attend every day (some once a week, some once a month, etc) but they still have a teacher. Sometimes they will still have sports and clubs. Sometimes not. They have homework assigned and every so often check in to make sure it is getting done, to get tested and (I assume) help if they need it.
So the pluses are that you don’t have to keep all the records and all the books are free. Some off extracuricular activities that don’t cost anything. You have a trained teacher to assist you as you go. Typically you can move along at your own pace be that faster or slower. You can minimize anything in the curriculum that you don’t agree with. If you are homeschooling for social reasons it pulls your children out of the typical school society and you can protect them a little more.
The cons (and this is the side I sit on) start with the fact this isn’t homeschooling but public schooling at home. You answer to the public schools, as you should because they are paying for it. While you can minimize certain subjects/issues that you don’t agree with, you can’t just choose to not teach them at all. Now some allow you a little latitude in what you teach but not complete control. So you also have to fit within the traditional education theory and are not going to be allowed to do a classical education, unschooling or even eclectic. Your kids will still need to take the standardized testing that the public schools have. Personally, I find the tests a gigantic waste of time and effort so I don’t want to have to do that. You do have a teacher that you answer to. And you have attendance rules of how many days and how many hours you kid has to do school.
I think it really boils down to the fact that it is public school and that comes with strings. The leash may be looser but it is still there. It is a good option for someone who has no qualms with the public school other than social and religious issues. I think there are better options but that is my humble opinion;).