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Charter School Myths

Myths and Realities About Massachusetts Charter Public Schools
(Reprinted from MA Charter School Association Publication)

MYTH: Charter public schools are private schools.

REALITY: Charter schools are public schools open to any child, free of charge; they offer public school choice to poor and working class families who cannot afford private school. Choice is a powerful tool for parents seeking educational equity and equal access to quality education for their children.

MYTH: Charter public schools accept only the "cream of the crop" and reject under performing students.

REALITY: Unlike exclusive private schools, charter public schools do not recruit and select "the best" students. When enrollment requests exceed the number of seats, charter schools hold a public lottery to determine who will attend. Because they are free and open to all, charter public schools do not engage in selective admissions policies.

MYTH: Charter public schools do not provide special education services.

REALITY: Charter public schools are under the same state and federal obligation to provide in-school special education services as other public schools.

MYTH: Charter public school enrollment does not reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

REALITY: Overall, charter public school parents report lower income and education levels than district public school parents. Charter public school students are more racially and economically diverse than their counterparts in district public schools. Charter public schools have a higher percentage of students of color than district public schools (44%-23%). Charter public schools also have a higher percentage of students on free or reduced lunch (36%-17%).

MYTH: Charter public schools "drain money" from district public schools.

REALITY: When charter public schools are funded, there is no loss of public school money because charter schools are public schools. The total amount of spending on public education in communities with charter public schools is unchanged.

MYTH: Charter public schools receive more state money than district public schools.

REALITY: Charter public schools receive exactly what the districts spend to educate their students. A new funding formula ensures that the amount of money that charter public schools receive reflects the demographics, grade levels, and special education needs of the students who enroll.

MYTH: Charter public schools cost more.

REALITY: When you factor in both operating expenses and facility costs, charter public schools cost less than district public schools. Charter public schools are not eligible to receive state subsidies from the School Building Assistance Bureau (SBAB), which grants districts large subsidies (60% to 90% of the total cost) to finance new construction or major renovations. Just this year, charters started receiving a per pupil grant of $742, which covers a portion of our construction costs.

MYTH: The state should not be expanding any programs during tight fiscal times.

REALITY: Charter public schools require no new state funds, so this "expansion" comes without a price tag. Charter public schools receive the same amount of money that district public schools would receive if they were still educating that student. The money is just being moved from one public school to another public school.