It may be us, but it seems charter schools are popping up across LA constantly, even in our own Silicon Beach backyard. Confused about what exactly a charter school is and how if differs from a public school, magnet school and/or private school? We’ve got you covered. We know that knowing about local schools is crucial when looking for a home. Read more below.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) views charter schools as integral to the District’s offerings and an opportunity to teach both students and educators. Currently, there are 274 charter schools (53 Affiliated, 221 Independent) under the jurisdiction of LAUSD, serving more than 138,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Types of Charters
There are two types of charter schools in the district: Conversion and Start-up.
• A Conversion charter is an existing district school that later becomes a charter.
• A Start-up is a charter school that is created “from scratch” by any member of the public – educators, parents, foundations and others.
Both of these charters can be fully independent or district-affiliated, which have closer ties to the district. Both must have their board-approved charter proposal, and both are held to a high level of accountability.
Charter Schools Background
The Charter School Act of 1992 is the legislation that gave origin to charter schools. The subsequent AB 544 legislation established further guidelines and requirements for charter schools. The legislation is also intended to shift toward a performance-based system and provide competition within the public school system.
The intent of that legislation is to:
• Improve pupil learning
• Increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving
• Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods
• Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site
• Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system
• Hold the schools established under this part accountable for meeting measurable pupil outcomes, and provide the schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance based accountability systems
• Provide vigorous competition within the public school system to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools (Education Code Section 47601).
If approved, a charter is granted by the LAUSD Board of Education for a period of up to five years. Charter schools are open to any child residing in the State of California who wishes to attend. If the number of students who wish to attend a charter school exceeds the school’s capacity, the school determines admission based on a public random drawing (lottery).
Charter schools may not be a conversion of a private school, must be non-sectarian, may not discriminate, may not charge tuition, must achieve a racial and ethnic balance reflective of the District population and may not compel students to attend nor teachers to be employed at the charter.
Pursuant to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board approved Policy on Charter School Authorizing, the District is committed to providing a wide range of schools and programs to meet the diverse educational needs and priorities of all students and families it has the privilege to serve. Charter schools are valuable partners and viable choices among the District’s robust set of educational options. Accordingly, the Board of Education views charter schools as an integral method of achieving its vision and mission.
In addition, here are a few links to articles about charter schools versus magnet schools, and options in between.
School Types: The Difference Between Public, Private, Magnet, Charter and More:
Charter Versus Magnet Schools: