Charter Schools: Facts & Issues
Published by the
LWVAL Education Fund
April 2011

IV.   Students served by charter schools

Charter schools must be open to all students and cannot require tests to be accepted. When the number of applicants for a school is higher than the number of spaces available, the students are selected randomly by a lottery. Chartering legislation typically permits the school to give admission priority to students who have siblings attending the school, are the children of the school‘s founders, or are from an underserved or disadvantaged population.

The missions of charter schools are exceptionally diverse, thus making it difficult to compare them. Some are established by converting an existing school that is in danger of closing because it is not performing to standards. Others are created to address a specific area of education like the sciences, arts, or languages. The first Arabic language charter school was established in New York and Florida has a Yiddish language charter school. In Minnesota there is a charter school that serves an international population and offers both Arabic and English. Tennessee has charter schools devoted exclusively to the reenrollment of high school students who have dropped out of school. States are also creating cyber or virtual charter schools.

A League of Women Voters of New Jersey 2007 report on charter schools in the state offered these reasons as to why parents choose a charter school:12

  • students have a longer school day and year to increase learning;
  • parents perceive that charter schools provide a safer environment;
  • parents want a smaller class size for their children;
  • parents are impressed with the innovation or theme of a particular charter school;
  • parents believe that charter schools have a high expectation for academic achievement.

Charter schools do have to comply with regulations regarding state education standards, accessibility, equality, and environmental safety. Alabama‘s 2010 proposed charter school act required local school districts to provide special education services to students enrolled in charter schools on the same basis as such services are provided to students enrolled in non-charter public schools in the local school district.

© 2011 League of Women Voters of Alabama Education Fund. All rights reserved.