My Real Life

August 29, 2013

Education Series Part 2: Charter School

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
Today is Part II in my education series.
I interviewed my awesome neighbor, Amy, who sends her children to a local charter school and I think you’ll learn a lot from her answers!
How were you educated, as a child?
I attended traditional public school. My husband attended catholic school.
What shaped your decision to send you children to a charter school?
I did not look for a charter school, in a way Unity found me.  We moved to Berkeley Heights for the amazing school system and always planned to send our kids to public school.  Our oldest son was having a very difficult first grade year because he was extremely bright and extremely immature.  He seemed to be bored in class and was behind his peers socially.  He was really hating school.  I met someone whose children went to Unity and the more I spoke to her about it, the more I became interested in it.  Unity is a public school of choice with a sustainability mission and multi age classrooms.  We felt the multi age classroom would help with our oldest son’s immaturity and the individualized learning would help him stay interested,
Was it your own experience going through school that made you choose a charter school?
I did not like school, the older I got, the more I hated school.  I would cry every Sunday night begging my parents to let me stay home.  I am very sensitive to my children possibly going through a similar experience.  When I saw it in my oldest so early on, I had to look for alternatives.
Would you have chosen a charter school, even if you lived somewhere else?
We lived 35 minutes from the school when we started.  We moved to Morristown 1 1/2 years ago to be closer to the school.  I think that it would have depended on the experience we had at the school we were in if we lived somewhere else.  Berkeley Heights was a good school district, it just didn’t work for our son.
What is your favorite thing about a charter school?
I like the community feel of it.  It’s small, many parents are involved and all the teachers and staff know the kids even if they haven’t taught them in their class.
Do you follow a specific charter school curriculum?
Unity follows all state curriculum requirements with infusion of an Education for Sustainability curriculum.
Do you belong to any charter school groups?
No, I am not aware of any.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced with regard to attending a charter school?
Kids come from many different towns so my children have friends in Morristown, Maplewood, Long Valley, Boonton, and Summit.  It makes it harder to have play dates and we don’t see many friends at town events.
Are there any myths surrounding charter schools that you would like to address?
The biggest myth is that a charter school takes money from the traditional district schools.  Like any public school, charter schools are free, and are funded by taxpayer dollars. However, there are significant disparities between the per-pupil rates passed on to charter schools and traditional schools, caused mainly by the exclusion of charter schools from state adjustment aid payments . According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a 2010 study showed that New Jersey charter schools were receiving on average $12,908 per pupil, while traditional public schools would have received $19,782 for those students. As a result, the state’s charter schools are getting 35% less than traditional schools.  Charter schools do not receive any funding for facilities.  The per pupil rate that the school receives plus any fundraising done by the school makes up the entire operational budget.

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