Charter Schools VS. Public Schools - ProTeacher Community





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Charter Schools VS. Public Schools
Old 06-25-2012, 10:24 AM
 
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Hello everyone!
I have been a public school teacher since 2000 and will be relocating to a state with minimal job openings (PA). I've never taught in a charter school and to be quite honest, I don't know much about these kind of schools. There is one charter school that I'm interested in applying to in PA. I'd like to know your experience with teaching in a charter school (anything you can share would be great, both pros/cons). Most importantly, how does the pay compare to that of a public school? TIA!!!


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Thumbs Down to Charter
Old 06-25-2012, 10:40 AM
 
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I taught in a charter school and resigned after two months. It was an awful experience. I'd be happy to go into more detail but here were the pros/cons of my circumstances:

Pros:
New Teacher Orientation was paid for
My students were great
The parents were not too bad
1st year teacher my pay was 35,000 (about 3,000 below public in my state)

Cons:
Made you sign up for THREE committees held after school each WEEK
Made me run an after school club each week and did not pay us for it
Had to have an achievement bulletin up every month--it took up an unecessary amount of time that could've been used better elsewhere
Too much stress on data/test scores in the school. If your students don't improve you are seen as a terrible teacher and basically I've heard you are put on a plan and will be fired if you don't improve
Watched them bully a teacher into leaving because the parents didn't like him so the admin forced him out
My team was TERRIBLE (this was a large part of my decision to leave)
I felt like we were all copies of each other--no room for individuality in teaching. You have to be where you say you are in the plans (they make you leave copies on your desk) and if you are NOT in that exact day covering that exact objective you get "spoke to".
Expect you to differentiate until you practically fall over and die...

The list could really go on. What it came down to for me was how much was I willing to do to make 35k? I was willing to do a lot--I am not lazy. I am a very smart, talented hardworker. I graduated from a top teaching college with high evals and knew that I cared more about a student than just their test scores. I couldn't stay because I finally realized my philsophy was out of sync with theirs. I didn't like being "forced" into things at the school. I would rather have volunteered to do some of the clubs they wanted us to do. I wasn't getting home until 7 pm every night which meant all my weekends were spent trying to catch up on what I was susposed to do each day. It was very stressful. They may not all be like this but I have heard pretty much the same from a lot of people. Good luck in whatever direction you decide to pursue. I am holding out for a public school position!
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All Charters Are Different
Old 06-25-2012, 11:05 AM
 
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Charter schools are public schools that must meet state guidelines. However, they have more flexibility in some areas. For example; salaries, benefits, teacher/student ratios, etc. Most charter schools in my area pay what the state pays regular public school teachers in order to attract quality teachers, but the school supplement/bonus may be different. Like many other schools, it all depends on the administration. I would suggest checking out the school website(s) and asking around in the community. Most charter schools operate on a year to year contract, so there is no tenure. They are designed to be a school of choice, meaning a student could be expelled with due process and return to their "home" school meaning student behavior should be good. However, there are some charter schools that have been confused with alternate schools and attracted kids who can't cut it in the regular public school. Again administration is a huge factor.
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:21 PM
 
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My 3 day teacher orientation is going to be paid 90.00 a day at the public school. (I am not a new teacher. I returning just returning to the field.)



Last Spring, I went to a recruitment fair for a charter school in Texas. Everything seemed ok until I spoke to an Elementary Principal.


She told me that teachers have NO input on curriculum. Everything is scripted and students are regrouped (with different teachers) at the end of EVERY assessment.

In public schools, teachers have input. We look at results and consult with the grade level and campus administrators to decide on the best practices.

We regroup in public schools, but it's usually after the Dec. break. We mostly regroup students within our own class.


I feel like they just want T. to be puppets at the charter school. I have 8 years of experience- teaching under various Principals and I have a pretty easy going personality.

However, I would Hate to teach in an environment were I had no input.

Oh, and they expect teachers to carry a cell phone. That was the final straw!
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:36 PM
 
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Well, I don't have any experience teaching in a charter school, actually I'm still working on finding my first teaching job, but I like in Atlanta, which has a good amount of charter schools. I think it depends on the school, but there are some schools around here that have extended school hours (I think its 7:30 to 5) and some want you to work a Saturday a month. I've never really tried to apply to many charter schools because I feel that it is already going to be enough on my plate the first year, without the extra hours. But I guess you could just check into each school you were interested in. This is just my opinion!


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charters
Old 06-25-2012, 01:39 PM
 
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Charter schools are so different. I have taught at two different ones, in two neighboring counties and there were HUGE differences between both of them. The main pro they both had was more flexibility in schedules, curriculum, and you actual instruction. There are a lot of differences btw charter and public schools. One of the largest here is there is absolutely NO job security and no union so that makes a huge difference.


I personally, will never go back to a charter. It had it's positives but not enough to balance the negatives.
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which one?
Old 06-25-2012, 02:10 PM
 
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What charter school system in PA? What area??
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Run!
Old 06-25-2012, 02:11 PM
 
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DON'T DO IT TO YOURSELF! I've recently completed my 1st year of teaching at a charter school in the southeast and it had to have been the worst experience imaginable. The students were fine and dandy and I always had awesome reviews from my principal. That's where the good part ends. There was totally no accountability as far as administration. Payroll was done by the secretary (she constantly made MAJOR mistakes with our paychecks and never faced any consequences for her actions). Parents were constantly in the classrooms "volunteering." I had parents calling/texting my cell at 8pm asking for the week's spelling words because little Johnny lost the list. They even called me on SATURDAY NIGHTS with silly requests. The principal bowed to any parent request because without parents willing to send their children to the school, you risk your charter being revoked. I didn't mind the mandatory tutoring and mentoring because it all benefited the children, but we also had to come out of pocket to pay for workshops, PTO memberships, banquets, and staff breakfasts/lunches (keep in mind we HAD to attend all of these functions whether we could really afford it or not).

The parents knew all of the terms of our employment contracts because they were the board. They would use this knowledge to bully the staff all of the time. We got paid the absolute minimum regardless of education and experience (lower than the county pay). A lot of the staff were sorority sisters, family, and friends of the principal and that's how they got their job although some were quite ineffective. I refused to sign my contract for next year. Lastly, when you are looking for employment later on, most districts don't even consider your experience at charter schools to be real "experience" and won't pay you for it. I just got offered a job teaching in a "regular" public school (THANK GOD), but they have to start me on the first step because I wasn't in a "real" public school.

You live and you learn though. The school at which I worked had over a 50% teacher turnover rate. If you are desperate for a job like I was, go for it. All schools are different. That was just my experience at a charter. I can go on and on but I will stop here lol
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Hmm...
Old 06-25-2012, 04:15 PM
 
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I actually think "charter vs. public" might be the wrong question to ask. There are terrible charters, and there are wonderful charters. There are terrible public schools (and districts), and there are wonderful public schools and districts. I've seen lots of threads on this subject, and the most anyone can do is offer their own experiences, which may or not be COMPLETELY different from schools in your particular area.

I am about to begin my first year of teaching at a charter, and my experience has been wonderful so far. This charter has been around for a LONG time, and the teacher retention rate is very high. So far, I don't get the impression that people are unhappy.

I find it amusing that some have posted about charters being SO strict vs. public being so lenient with the curriculum - it is exactly the opposite where I am!!

When I was job searching, there were some charters I would NOT apply to, and there were some (like the one I was hired at) that I definitely wanted to apply to. If I were you, I would just search out the charter schools' websites and see what you can find out. I noticed that many charters actually posted their "extra duties" in the job descriptions. One school required teachers to be available until 5pm 3 days a week and then every other Saturday. They also paid terribly. Another school required teachers to be available to parents via their personal cellphone outside of school hours. I wouldn't touch those schools with a ten foot pole.

As a previous poster said, there is just SO much variation among charters (and public schools, and private schools, and regions of the country for that matter!!)...so really, just do as much research as you can, and see what happens!

Good luck to you!
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:11 PM
 
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Yellowdaisies, It would be great if you could give us an update when you start planning for the year to see how it goes. I am meeting with my grade level teachers this week to print out the curriculum and plan.

Good Luck!!!
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I went to school in PA
Old 06-26-2012, 05:43 AM
 
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and most of my friends/ classmates are still there looking for jobs. It is incredibly competitive. Many teachers in the schools where I student taught told me to either move out of the state or expect to sub for a long time. You experience may help you though, I'm not sure.

I guess my point is that I don't know anything about charter schools, but I do know that in PA it's usually worth it to take whatever you can get.

I have also talked to a couple of people that loved teaching for the online charters in PA. It wouldn't be my cup of tea, but maybe it's yours?
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Every school is different
Old 06-27-2012, 01:01 PM
 
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I teach at a National Heritage charter school in Kalamazoo, Mi. I have not had experience teaching in a public school, but I love the school where I teach. I have been given the opportunity and freedom to implement new strategies and programs if I can show the merit. I changed to Daily 5 and now many of my team mates are too. I have objectives to teach, but have the freedom to make sure that these get done in the best way for my students. That being said, I do have a Dean who is supportive, observes me every week, and offers me feedback that is constructive.There are times when we focus on data and test scores. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the current educational climate everywhere.

Just like public schools, there are good and bad schools. Even within a district this is the case. Don't just dismiss a school because it is a charter. Instead, check us out!!! I know my school is hiring two teachers right now and you will not fnd a more wonderful staff.
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give charter schools a chance!
Old 06-28-2012, 08:52 AM
 
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When I was in college, I was never a fan of charter schools. I always had my heart set on teaching in a public school. When I graduated, I could NOT find a teaching job (in state OR out of state). So I began subbing. I had friends that worked for National Heritage Academies, and they got me in subbing for some of their charter schools. 2 months after subbing there, I was hired as a paraprofessional. Now, after being a paraprofessional for 1 1/2 years, I will be a 2nd grade teacher this fall at a brand new National Heritage Academies charter school, and I couldn't be more excited! Yes, there are pros and cons to charter schools, but I really enjoy working for NHA. I'm really glad I gave charter schools a chance, because if I didn't, I don't know where I'd be with a job right now!
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Old 06-28-2012, 03:19 PM
 
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Good luck GVSU...I worked as a teacher for the organization and the stress nearly killed me. Being a para is one thing but the expectations they tack onto teachers is overwhelming. I know they just opened some new ones in lower MI. I worked at one of the new ones and starting a new school is a lot of work. Good luck...Things seem great when you go to NTO (stressful still somewhat) but be ready to BRING IT on testing or else!
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