What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are independently-operated tuition-free public schools that have the freedom to design classrooms that meet their students’ needs. All charter schools operate under a contract with a charter school authorizer – usually a nonprofit organization, government agency, or university – that holds them accountable to the high standards outlined in their “charter.”
A charter school is generally exempt from most laws governing school districts, except where specifically noted in the law. Public charter schools may not charge tuition and may not discriminate against any pupil on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability. When enrollment is oversubscribed, students are entered in a lottery and drawn at random. The lottery is open to all students and charter schools are openly attended by choice.
Charter School Myths
MYTH: Charter schools “drain money” from district public schools.
FACT: Charter schools are public schools. The money that follows the students who choose to attend charter schools remains in the public education system. In the Duval County School District, a portion of the per pupil revenue passed along to a charter school remains with the school district.
MYTH: Charter school teachers are not licensed.
FACT: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) does not require that a charter school teacher have a teaching license, but charter schools are required to comply with all other NCLB requirements regarding “Highly Qualified Teachers.” This provides charter schools the freedom to hire the most qualified and committed teachers who come from diverse professional backgrounds and are passionate about teaching.
MYTH: Charter schools accept only the “cream of the crop” and reject under performing students.
FACT: Charter schools may not limit admission to pupils on the basis of ability. Charter schools are open to all and cannot require entrance exams. When enrollment requests exceed the number of seats available, most charter schools hold a public lottery to determine who will attend (others have first come/first served waiting lists).
MYTH: Charter schools endanger the public school system.
FACT: Charter schools are a relatively new and innovative part of the public school system. The entire public school system is strengthened when choices such as charter schools are available to students and families. When families are empowered to make decisions about their child’s education, ownership, parental involvement and accountability are increased. Having a choice is beneficial for all.
MYTH: Charter schools are not open to all students.
FACT: Charter schools serve a broad range of diverse students, including low income, racial and ethnic minorities, and students with disabilities or other special needs.