Charter School Advocacy

Why Charter Schools?

Charter schools are public schools that operate independently, according to the terms of a performance contract or “charter.” Charter schools commit to meeting specific academic goals then make their own decisions about how to achieve them. If the goals are not met, the charter may be revoked and the school shut down. This combination of autonomy and accountability allows charter school to respond to community needs, try innovative approaches, and put student learning first.

Charter schools are not private schools or magnet schools. They admit students by random lottery, not tests. Funding comes from tax dollars, and no religious affiliation is allowed. When it comes to health, safety, civil rights, and standardized testing, charter schools follow the same state laws and Regents requirements as traditional public schools.

Charter schools WORK…

…for students and parents. For the 2009-10 school year, approximately 40,000 students applied for 8,500 seats in New York City charter schools. At Renaissance alone we typically have at least 1,500 on our waiting list. Such high demand shows that students and parents want the options charter schools provide. Rigorous academic research shows why: charter school students make significantly greater academic progress over time than similar students in traditional public schools.

…for educators. Charter schools’ extraordinary autonomy and accountability is a powerful lure for talented educators. They have used this opportunity to take bold approaches to teaching and school design. At Renaissance we empower our teachers to take on leadership roles above and beyond the classroom, to support their professional and personal growth.

…for citizens. New Yorkers can be pleased at how charter schools manage to “do more with less” while responding to community needs and offering traditional schools some friendly competition. But the deeper benefits come over the long term, as charter schools’ tireless work makes New York a more equitable place for children from any background.

Deepening the Dialogue

Stacey Gauthier, Principal of The Renaissance Charter School, and Marc Waxman, who has opened two charter schools as part of the SOAR network in Denver, have been carrying on a fascinating cross-country discussion about school policy and education reform on the online newspaper "Gotham Schools." Read their entire exchange at Stacey's Blog.