Home General Charter School vs. Public School: What’s the Difference?

Charter School vs. Public School: What’s the Difference?

by Olufisayo
Charter School

The perception of the U.S. education system is somewhat confusing. On one hand, most parents are happy with their child’s public school education but less than half of American parents are happy with our country’s education options overall.

One solution to limited education options is a charter school. Charter schools aren’t right for every family, but they help parents gain wider access to K-12 education.

Take a look at these key differences between public and charter schools.

Freedom of Information Act

One of the most significant differences between a public and charter school is the obligation to share information. Charter schools are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

The Freedom of Information Act requires that all government-funded institutions share information and data upon request. Charter schools are required to share data, but the extent of the data they share won’t always match that of a public school.

Information like staff salaries, board meeting notes, and budget details can be hidden from public review. This is a common criticism of charter schools.

National Achievement

Charter schools vary drastically in their achievement levels. Without transparency, parents may not have the data they need to compare local public schools against charter schools.

Unlike public schools, charter schools have autonomy in their curriculum and hiring practices. This means charter schools can have drastic differences in teaching methods that work for some students but don’t for others.


Charter schools have two options for funding: public and private. A privately funded charter school gets funding similar to a private school.

Private charter schools can charge tuition, apply for grants, or benefit from endowments. These schools operate independently without any required intervention from the state.

Public charter schools receive money from local tax dollars similar to a public school. The amount of funding charter schools receive from local governments varies dramatically.

Charter schools can turn to other methods of financing like those read on here. But the most consistent source of income comes from taxpayers.

In the charter vs. public debate, charter school supporters argue that underfunding independent schools is the leading factor in school failure. School leadership cannot realize its academic goals without proper financial support.


Public schools are managed by principals with a uniform set of credentials. Charter schools are managed by individuals who may or may not have backgrounds in education.

Charter school administration may be likened to entrepreneurs looking for innovation. Their approach to education can produce great results, but the lack of uniformity in management leads to some school closings.

Is Charter School Right for Me?

Charter school offers far more benefits for students depending on the neighborhood and income level of its students. Studies show that low-income students in inner cities tend to benefit more from charter schools than students in the suburbs.

Charter schools in inner cities outperform the local public schools often because, with little funding, innovation is required to make sure students get the best education. The option to choose charter over public is much simpler when you weigh your local options and avoid looking at national statistics.

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