Supporters of school districts with charter schools point to several positive effects of their programs, such as increased academic performance. One recent study, conducted by Harvard University, revealed that charter schools helped students advance faster overall. Additionally, researchers noted that charter schools hired more minority teachers than traditional public schools. Moreover, charters are more diverse, which means that students learn better from teachers who look like them. However, some critics point out that the benefits of charter schools outweigh the drawbacks.
Although charter schools are free from school district oversight and can set their own curriculum, there are many drawbacks. While they tend to be less expensive than public schools, they can’t charge tuition. Additionally, they’re supposed to be more accountable to parents and local governments, which is not always the case, according to Frank Adamson, assistant professor of educational leadership at California State University–Sacramento. For example, some charter schools focus on arts and culture, while others prioritize ecology and social justice.
Some critics argue that charter schools drain resources from district schools and put additional stress on neighborhood programs. However, studies have shown that the introduction of a charter school in a community increases instructional spending by school districts by about eight percent, and this increases as the distance from the school grow. Additionally, the introduction of a charter school leads to modest reductions in enrollment at nearby district schools, though the percentage of students from underrepresented minority groups or with special needs does not change.