Though all charters are publicly funded schools, there are a lot of differences in the way they function relative to traditional public schools. The work style, employment policies and general culture (in some cases) are very different. Charters are diverse institutions and each school has its own management style and framework.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is the definition of a charter school?
Charter schools are independent public schools (most are nonprofit organizations) designed and operated by educators, parents, community leaders, educational entrepreneurs, and/or others. They are authorized/chartered by local or state education agencies or organizations that monitor their quality and effectiveness, but allow them to operate somewhat outside of the regimented practices of traditional public schools.
2. Do charter schools require licensed teachers?
No, it is not an absolute requirement that every teacher in a charter school hold a valid teaching license. However, in compliance with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), 70% of all charter school staffs must be “highly qualified” as defined by the state in which the school is located. Depending on the state, “highly qualified” indeed may be defined as holding a valid teaching license. The bottom line: in most states, you may obtain a teaching position without being licensed, however, your chances of employment are much greater if you hold a permanent license in the state in which the school is located.
3. How much do charters pay teachers and other staff?
Unlike traditional public schools, charters are free to set their own pay scales. They are not subject to collective bargaining agreements and generally are not unionized workplaces. Hence, charter schools can and are (usually) more creative in their pay and incentive offerings to employees (i.e. bonuses, merit pay, stock options, etc.).
4. What are the employment policies of charter schools?
Charter schools are independent nonprofit organizations that (for the most part) hire employees on at-will contracts. While the exact details of wage/salary and benefits packages vary from school to school, charters typically offer:
- salaries that are comparable to the school district in which they are located
- health insurance
- paid vacation time
- retirement savings options
- merit/incentive pay options
Again, the degree and amount an employee must contribute to these employee benefit packages varies per school.