Charter Schools vs Public Schools: Performance, Pros & Cons


Charter Schools vs Public Schools: Performance, Pros & Cons

Charter Schools vs Public School Differences

Before we get right into the charter schools vs public school differences, let’s talk about the similarities.

One of the similarities between charter schools and public schools is that they both are free for students to attend. They do not charge tuition. Another of their similarities is that they don’t discriminate against the students they admit. Hence, they do not give students admission based on entrance exams.

Additionally, charter schools and public schools must show accountability by taking state tests and participating in federal accountability programs. Lastly, they both receive state funding.

Now, on their differences, we’ll use the next subheadings to discuss them:


We know that charter schools have a level of flexibility, but does that mean that they have no regulation?

There is no central body regulating charter schools, hence they are not strictly regulated. They are independently run and must meet the standards set in their “charter.” It is by meeting these standards that they are able to secure funding to operate. Thus, they must maintain standards as rigorous (if not more rigorous) as public schools.

On the other hand, public schools are regulated by the laws of the state school board. They must follow these laws and regulations to receive funding.


Remember that both charter and public schools do not discriminate against the students that they admit. However, admission still differs between both of them.

For charter schools, students have to apply, and where the charter school has met its student gap, then the school conducts a random lottery for enrollment. A student who doesn’t get picked in the lottery does not gain admission. This case and the case where the student does not meet grade or attendance requirements are the only instances where charter schools deny admission.

Public schools, on the other hand, is free to all students living within the local school district. These students don’t have to apply to attend public school. The matter is different if a public school is an open enrollment school. If it is an open enrollment school, parents from other districts can choose to send their kids there.

Curriculum Flexibility

Charter schools operate a flexible curriculum in that they can alter their course material to meet a student’s needs. This freedom comes from the fact that they are exempted from a good number of the local, state, and federal laws that govern public schools. However, in its flexibility, charter schools do not offer many electives. This is because they are electives in themselves. They mostly offer specific courses that meet children’s needs.

Public schools, on the other hand, cannot maintain a flexible curriculum. The state education board decides a public school’s curriculum and the local school district executes it. But unlike charter schools, public schools offer several electives. They often merge their graduation requirements with these electives.

Social Life

Due to the small class size classes of charter schools make charter schools provide a more relaxed educational system to its students. Thus, the kids are able to build friendships that will last long. Charter schools also operate a family-settings kind of education that allows older students to help younger students. On the downside, charter schools usually don’t have many sports facilities. However, they can join the larger public schools in their district by sharing their sports facilities.

Public schools, on the other hand, may have large classes than charter schools. This increases the avenue for greater social interaction as well as better prepare the students for the social pressures of college.  Public schools also have greater sports opportunities, community groups, and other after-school activities that help students to broaden their boundaries.

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