In 1993, the Massachusetts Legislature passed an education reform act that allowed for the development of charter schools. Charter schools are innovative public schools usually started by parents, teachers, non-profit organizations, or community leaders. Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that both teachers and students choose them. They operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.
Schools that are awarded charters have the freedom to create their own missions, themes, or teaching methods and are allowed to control their budgets and staffing. Unlike private schools, charter schools are public schools, open to any child, free of charge. Admission is determined by a lottery, not by examinations or interviews.
Charter schools, like other public schools, are funded primarily by state funds. Charter schools receive the same per pupil allocation that the district receives. The sending district receives a 100% reimbursement during the first year and a 25% reimbursement in each of the next five years.
All charter schools are evaluated by the Massachusetts Department of Education every five years to determine whether or not the school is meeting the terms of its charter.
The Massachusetts Charter School Association provides information to parents and community members about how to get involved in advocating for charter schools. Below you will find excerpts from the Association’s report Charter Schools Are Worth It: Providing Value and Achieving Academic Success. Additional information from this report and others can be found at the following website: www.masscharterschools.org/schools/aboutschools.html.
Charter School Provide Universal Access to Excellence
- Unlike private schools, charter schools are public schools, open to any child, free of charge.
- Charter schools do not recruit or selectively admit students: admissions are not determined by examinations or interviews.
- When there are more applicants than available seats, a public lottery decides who will attend.
Charter Schools Are Held to Very High Standards
- The charter school approval process is extremely rigorous; only strong, viable applications are approved.
- The charter renewal process is equally stringent; schools must be recertified every five years and are subject to annual state inspections.
- Charter schools must meet the same laws, regulations, and standards as other public schools.
- Underperforming charter schools can be shut down.
Charter Schools: Agents of Change
- Charter schools benefit all students, not just those attending them, because they create competition and spur innovation and improved results.
- Charter schools serve as laboratories for education reform, making possible curricular innovations that enhance learning: longer school days, extended school years, best practice sharing, English immersion curriculum, arts built into the curriculum, and intensive parent involvement.
- Competition promoted by charter schools provides models of best practices and spurs positive improvements in district schools.
Charter Schools Are Worth It
- Charter schools do not subtract from public education; they add to it.
- Charter schools offer public school choice to working class families.
- There is continued demand for charter schools.
- Charter schools have had measurable academic success.
- Charter schools are agents of change in the public school system.
- Charter schools are held to extremely high standards.
- Charter schools reflect the diversity of the districts.
- Charter schools provide value.
Alma del Mar is accredited through the Massachusetts Department of Education Charter School Office. The Charter School Office reviews Alma del Mar every five years to determine whether it should renew its charter.
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