Authored by Karen England
Since their conception in 1988, charter schools are public schools that commit to obtaining specific educational objectives in return for a charter or contract to operate a school. The contract excuses the school from many state and local regulations related to operation and management, but otherwise, they adhere to the regulations of all public schools in that it must be free to attend, and enrollment is open to everyone. Charter schools are publicly accountable. They must have a written performance contract with the authorized public agency and meet agreed-upon educational requirements outlined by the school’s charter (Meador 2018). This is the school’s attempt to meet a need that the traditional public school system is not fulfilling.
Charter schools provide parents and students who feel constrained by conventional public schools a choice for educational development. By providing greater access to quality education, these schools increase learning opportunities for many children around the country. Located in every community, from rural to urban inner-city, charter schools provide students with rigorous education and skills to become global citizens. As of 2016, charter schools serve nearly three million students, of which 33% are Hispanic, 32% are white, 26% are black, and the other 9% are other ethnic minorities (NCSRC 2016, under “Number of students served as of fall 2016”). Not only do they provide greater opportunity for the student, but they are also amicable for the educators. Teachers are often encouraged to think freely and be innovative and proactive in their classrooms. According to Sarah Cohodes, urban charter schools serving low-income and minority students produce significant achievement gap gains compared to white students’ achievements in traditional public schools (Cohodes 2018, 14). However, Cohodes warns (2018, 13-14) that unless the successful practices of these schools are implemented nationally into all public schools, charters by themselves cannot close the achievement gap between white and non-white students. Minorities will still be disadvantaged in their education.
The mission statement for Providence Hall Charter School states, “Think critically, communicate effectively, and act responsibly in an ever-changing global community” (Providence Hall Charter School 2020, under “Mission and Vision”). This mission statement embodies the Vincentian tradition of “providing [an] excellent education for all people, especially those lacking economic, physical, or social advantages” (St. John’s University 2021, under “Our Mission”). At Providence Hall, elementary-aged (K-5) students are taught the “foundational skills for inquiry-based learning and development as well as becoming well-rounded, caring individuals” (Providence Hall Charter School 2020, under “About Us”). When students move into middle school (6-8), they are intellectually challenged. Providence Hall (Providence Hall Charter School 2020, under “About Us”) encourages students to connect their studies in traditional subjects to the real world. These connections develop communication, intercultural understanding, and global engagement, which are essential qualities for young people who are becoming global leaders. A rigorous and balanced educational program provides students at the high school level with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare them for college and beyond (Providence Hall Charter School 2020, under “About Us”).
Cohodes, Sarah. 2018. “Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap.” The Future of Children. (Winter): 1-16. https://futureofchildren.princeton.edu/sites/futureofchildren/files/resource-links/charter_schools_compiled.pdf.
Meador, Derrick. 2018. “Breaking Down the Pros and Cons of Charter Schools.” ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-a-charter-school-3194629.
NCSRC (National Charter School Resource Center). 2016. “What is a Charter School.”https://charterschoolcenter.ed.gov/what-charter-school.
Providence Hall Charter School. 2020. “About Us.” https://providencehall.com/about-us/.
Providence Hall Charter School. 2020. “Mission and Vision.” https://providencehall.com/about-us/mission-vision/.
St. John’s University. 2021. “Our Mission.” https://www.stjohns.edu/about/history-and-facts/our-mission.