Charter Schools vs Public Schools: What’s the Difference?

Do you want your children to have the best education? This is one of the major causes of stress for most parents.

Choosing the right school for your child can put a lot of pressure on you. This is especially true because the decision affects your kid’s future.

Unfortunately, when choosing a school, parents don’t always have the correct information. Choosing between charter schools vs public schools is a big decision.

So, what is the difference between charter schools and public schools? Read on below to understand.

What Are Charter Schools?

Charter schools are publicly funded tuition-free schools. Leaders of charter schools accept a great deal of accountability. They do this in exchange for autonomy.

In the past, school districts only operated public schools. The school districts make decisions about the school’s operations. They do this through bargaining agreements with the teacher’s union.

Students are also assigned to the public school based on their neighborhood. However, charter schools operate differently.

A charter school starts with an application that defines the school’s curriculum. It also defines the proposed mission, finances, management structure, and other characteristics.

The proposal is submitted to the government-authorized agency for approval. The body that serves as the authorizer differs from state to state.

After the authorizer approves the proposal, a contract is created. The contract is known as a charter, and it’s between the school’s governing board and the authorizer. 

The charter describes the school’s responsibility, performance expectations, and rights. This is the core that’s known as the charter school bargain.

Difference Between Charter School and Public School

Charter schools and public schools have numerous commonalities. Both schools offer students tuition-free education from kindergarten to 12th grade. 

Both schools rely on federal or state funding for financing. They also take part in accountability and state testing programs.

There are numerous differences between charter schools and public schools. Below are some of the major differences:


Both public and charter schools must answer to their governing bodies. However, charter schools are not answerable to the regulatory restrictions of governing bodies the same way public schools are.

Both charter and public schools abide by the same rules. The rules govern non-discrimination, school year length, and health and safety standards.

Beyond those factors, charter schools run independently. They operate based on the contract they have with the governing organizations.

Charters define detailed educational objectives. The objectives differ from those issued by the state or federal governmental bodies.

For instance, public schools’ laws dictate that they can only hire certified teachers. On the other hand, charter schools may choose to only hire certified teachers.

Charter schools have less governmental oversight and abide by fewer transparency requirements. The Freedom of Information Act applies to all public schools. However, charter schools don’t face the same financial scrutiny that public schools do.

This means that the leaders of charter schools can make independent decisions. The public can’t influence charter schools’ decision-making.

Student Population

Another big difference between a charter school vs. public school is the ability to choose their student population. A public school must offer education to all students.

Charter schools have the freedom to decide their student population. They do this by choosing which services or programs to offer their students.

For Instance, a charter school may choose to omit special needs programs from their services. Therefore, such a school will not attract students with special needs. Public schools in the same district must offer their students special needs programs.

However, some public schools can’t have an in-house special needs program for students. In such cases, the district must provide these services for students with special needs at a specific facility.

Charter Schools vs Public Schools: Teaching Environment

The teaching environment differs significantly from one school to another despite the type. However, some distinct characteristics distinguish the two types of schools.

Charter School Teaching Environment

Charter school teachers have flexibility in their teaching approaches. This is thanks to their fewer restricting regulations. This flexibility applies to the programs offered, curriculum, and teaching styles.

Charter school leaders have the flexibility to change the teaching methods and curricula. They can make these changes if the methods prove inefficient and unproductive.

The biggest benefit of charter schools is their great innovation potential. This allows students and teachers to learn, teach and strive for excellence. If you are looking for the best school for your children, google “charter school near me” for the best results.

The Public Schools Teaching Environment

Public schools’ teaching environment offers more stability for teachers than charter schools. Thanks to this stability, public schools attract more educated and experienced teachers. They also offer teachers union memberships and higher salaries.

Public schools’ teaching environment is greatly affected by collective bargaining rights. This limits the workloads and guarantees salary increments. Public school teachers enjoy specific consistencies not afforded to charter school educators.

Educators must follow precise guidelines regarding classroom evaluation and observations. These guidelines also apply to professional development and paperwork responsibilities. When teachers don’t follow these guidelines, they have to recourse.

The Application Process

Traditional public schools do not have a specified application process. However, Charter school admission processes are often misunderstood. While charter schools require students to submit applications, they don’t need enrollment exams.

Charter schools are also open to the public. When students apply to a charter school, they will need to fill out an online application form. Then, an enrollment professional will help them get set up.

Charter Schools vs Public Schools: Admission

In both schools, admission is mostly similar in that it’s open to all children. However, admission to public schools is reliant on the school district. Enrollment also depends on whether the school is open to enrollment.

If school enrollment in your county is open, you can choose a school for your children. If a public school doesn’t offer open enrollment, it won’t offer admission to all students.

Charter Schools vs Public Schools: Now You Know the Difference

Are you wondering which is the best school for your child? Now you know the difference between charter schools vs public schools. Therefore, ensure you choose wisely. Choose a school that has a proper student-to-teacher ratio for proper personal education. Did you like this article? Check out other posts on our site for more informative posts.