With so many options for a child’s education, choosing the right path for success can be overwhelming. However, the process can be simplified by weighing the advantages of public, private and charter schools against what is most important to a parent for his or her child.
The Oklahoma Private School Accreditation Commission oversees more than 100 private schools in Oklahoma. Many of the state’s private schools reflect a religious affiliation.
Often, these schools provide financial aid or assistance for families interested in a private education. Public schools are confined to specific districts, receive public funds and are governed by school boards. More than 500 school districts provide public education to Oklahoma children.
While most know the role of private and public schools in Oklahoma, the role a charter school plays in education can seem confusing.
More than 13,000 Oklahoma children attend charter schools in Oklahoma.
“Legislation stipulates charter schools may be established in districts of 5,000 [student] attendance or counties with a population of at least 500,000. Schools listed in districts ‘needing improvement’ may apply for establishment of a charter school,” says Sam Duell, executive director of School Choice, a divison of the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
“The Oklahoma Charter Schools Act defines them as public schools. They maintain a different governance structure, providing greater flexibility in education. In exchange, there is greater accountability, and they must justify their existence to continue. Still, [charter schools] must perform to standards.”
“Enrollment is open to all children, and no tuition is allowed,” says Brent Bushey, executive director of Oklahoma Public School Resource Center. “Charter schools receive the same 70 percent funding all [public] schools receive. Public schools receive additional funding from ad valorem and property taxes within the school district.”
Because of educational opportunities and charter schools’ popularity, some schools resort to a lottery method for admission.
“This limitation in charter schools for admission comes from facility size,” Bradley Clark, director of legal services for OPSRC adds. “The regulations in the law states children within the district receive priority, then those outside the district. There is a tier system to avoid the appearance of cherry picking.”
Charter schools provide innovation, parent involvement, smaller classes and educational specificity. Private schools involve no state interference, have smaller class sizes and attract families with similar values.
Public schools, especially elementary schools, are typically close to home. Public schools provide transportation, no tuition and diversity in the student body.
Parent involvement is the most important part of children’s education. Determining what fits your family values is the most important component of choosing the best school for your child.