What is a charter school? Charter schools are part of the public school system, however, they are independent public schools that operate according to the terms of a five-year performance contract or “charter.” Charter schools commit to meeting specific goals for academic performance and their charter can be revoked if agreed-upon results are not attained. Like all publicly funded schools, charter schools must meet Regents requirements and state laws for health, safety, civil rights, and student assessment. In addition, charter schools must accept all students and cannot discriminate in their admission policy. The New York City Department of Education is doing more to support charter schools than most host districts in the country. By providing facilities support and other resources to charter schools, Chancellor Klein is inviting charter schools into a dialog about what works best for all children in New York City. For more information about Charter Schools in New York City visit the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence.
How are charter schools different from NYC public schools? Accountability: Charter schools are held to very high standards and are responsible for educating public school students. Charter schools are approved only after a rigorous review process. Autonomy: Once schools open, they are governed by a not-for-profit Board of Trustees. They are exempt from many state and local regulations regarding curriculum development, personnel hiring, and financial management, but must succeed in hitting established targets for their academic programs. Choice: Parents, teachers, community groups, organizations, or individuals interested in creating additional educational opportunities for children can start charter schools. Local and state school boards, colleges and universities, and other community agencies can sponsor them. Students choose to attend, and teachers choose to teach at charter schools.
How long have charter schools been operating? Charter schools are one of the fastest-growing innovations in education and are supported at the city, state, and federal government levels. The first charter school was established in Minnesota in 1991. How many are there in NYC? Nationwide? As of fall 2010, there are 125 Charter Schools in New York City. Nationally there are 3,500 Charter Schools in 40 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, serving more than one million students. What are the benefits of enrolling my child in a charter school? Charter schools provide an innovative alternative to traditional NYC public schools. With their high degree of autonomy, aggressive performance goals, and strict accountability, charter schools: Enable teachers to be more creative and innovative in their teaching methods and subject matter. Provide an added education resource in areas underserved by public schools. Tend to be smaller in classroom size and overall student body for more personalized attention. Allow parents to choose a school based on what they think will work best for their children. Are held accountable for meeting student performance goals.
How does Summit define success? We are a college preparatory school. Our goal is that every graduate of Summit Academy Charter School, regardless of prior academic achievement levels or socioeconomic status, will go to, succeed in, and graduate from college. Now more than ever, college is the ticket out of poverty. Yet fewer than one in ten children from the bottom quartile of household income will obtain a four-year college degree, compared to seven in ten from the top quartile. For African-American men, the economic benefits of a college education are striking. For every ten African-American men who complete a bachelor’s degree, nine will be gainfully employed. By contrast, only four in ten of those who drop out of high school will find a job. College matters. We define success through this and other specific, measurable commitments. These include DOE’s universal goals for charter schools and our own proposed “alternative indicators.”
Who is on the Board? The Board of Trustees of Summit Academy is comprised of members diverse in personal and professional experiences. Each member of the board has expressed and demonstrated a commitment to using education to improve their communities through professional, volunteer, and academic experience. Collectively, their experience includes expertise in law, marketing, business, finance, real estate, education, and compliance.