Amid the hubbub of charter schools measuring up to the public schools, I am reminded of the David-and-Goliath motif because I believe–with the backing of the right politicians in office–charter schools will maximize their opportunities to educate students just as well, if not better, than their Goliath counterparts in the regular public schools.
After sixteen years in middle and high schools in California, I made the switch to a college preparatory charter school in North Carolina.
I was used to union-controlled public school districts where lunch periods lasted as long as forty-eight minutes and school officials had to answer to the union reps before making key school campus decisions. I did not agree with all the union activities, but I kept my mouth shut–most of the time–because the union provided liability insurance, and that was a nice piece of protection.
Four years in a charter school has taught me a lot about the differences between these tuition-free independent school and the standard public school system. Advantages tend to outweigh the disadvantages.
Teacher autonomy is my favorite advantage. When I stepped forward to make myself available for the summer school teaching position, I realized that being able to approach the headmaster and the high school principal was not only non-threatening but also to my advantage. I was able to secure more than just a summer income; I became the go-to guy for distance learning.
In addition to becoming the Distance Learning Advisor for my charter school, I also gained a fortuitous position the facilitator of our Homework Support program. For each new hat I wear, I authorize most of the decisions and choices made by others. I run the programs.
Another advantage to teaching at a charter school lies in the discipline policy. Our charter school maintains an honor council who judges the offenders of the classroom, and many students realize that the charter school is a choice their parents made and can be reversed. if the student is unwilling to get with the charter program.
I miss the classic sports and pep rallies. We have only recently begun our own football team, and our basketball team has made the playorrs; however, other than that, we are sorely missing the funds necessary to offer other extracurricular groups and organizations.
Pocket books feel the greatest error We haven’t had a raise in three years. Little money from the government equals little money for the charter school teacher.
No union protection. Just the idea that a disgruntled student or parent wouldn’t be able to rake teachers over the coals would be a welcome feeling of security.
Given this smattering of ideas about the advantages and disadvantages, I am reminded how much I enjoy working at a charter school. Each day, regardless of pay or lack thereof, I look forward to stepping into the polite pandemonium of my classroom.