A charter school is an educational institution that works outside some of the school district’s regulatory constraints. They are at liberty to experiment with class schedules and sizes, curricula, teaching certification required and income distribution plans. While charter schools may come with some advantages, there are certain risks involved in leaving a public school to work for a charter school.
Less Pay and Benefits
Teachers who work in charter schools receive less average annual pay in comparison to teachers in public school. However, there may be some parts of the country with aggressive initiatives that guarantee relatively better pay. In addition, teachers in charter schools are not eligible to make contributions to their school district’s retirement fund, yet their schools lack enough funds to provide for separate retirement plans. For instance, most charter schools can only cater for the teacher’s medical coverage without any benefits for family members.
Poor Job Security
Charter schools cannot guarantee a teacher’s job security. The school routine involves an annual performance review in which teachers are fired if student performance does not meet the required standards. Conversely, teachers in public schools receive tenure every few years to help them keep their posts.
Working in a charter school includes working under fewer regulations and management. Therefore, teachers may need to take part in running the institution. Any added responsibility could mean spending extra hours on the job each day. In essence, teachers serve as employees that come up with new ways of improving the school and its curricula. This administrative uncertainty together with the aforementioned grueling working hours inevitably leads to a high turnover rate among the teachers.
Management and Quality Uncertainties
The same autonomy that gives charter schools such freedom in administration and student interaction also means that the quality of education could vary widely from school to school. Charter schools under incompetent management can lead to inadequate teaching materials, a substandard curriculum and lack of facility perks, such as auditoriums and athletic fields. This is true, especially for schools that cannot afford their own facilities and equipment because of mismanaged funds.
Less Transparency and Accountability
Most charter schools are run by private entities and need not comply with the Freedom of Information Act. This limits the teachers’ avenues for protest whenever problems and controversies erupt. Moreover, the schools have a board of directors appointed by charter unions, with only one member elected to represent the public. The public elect may not be able to defend teachers’ rights if the ruling involved requires a unanimous vote.
In theory, charter schools are required to open their doors to every kind of student. However, in reality, they always have a target audience. Working in a charter school may force teachers to exercise some degree of racial and economic segregation during student enrollment. For example, some schools have a rigorous curriculum that discourages students with poor academic performance. Likewise, a school without student transportation automatically filters out families with lower income.
Charter schools can still develop the talents of children by maximizing their available opportunities. Despite having fallen short of some educational policies and reforms, there are some excellent charter schools that can still produce good results on a tight budget.