6 Pros and Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools – Is Teaching In A Charter School Right for You?

Pros And Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools

Teaching in charter schools is a hot topic in the teacher groups lately. What are the pros and cons of teaching in charter schools? We’ve got you covered!

Pros And Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools

Introduction: The Pros and Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools

Charter schools have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional public schools, offering unique educational environments and approaches to learning. As their presence grows across the United States, it’s essential for educators to understand what teaching in a charter school entails. While charter schools promise innovation and flexibility, they also come with their own set of challenges.

In this blog post I will explore the pros and cons of teaching in charter schools, providing a comprehensive overview to help educators make informed decisions about their careers. Teachers have very strong feelings about teaching in charter schools. I am a public school teacher and I love community schools, but I understand situations across the United States are very different. I polled almost 200 teachers for this post. Let’s dive in!

What are charter schools?

Charter schools are independent public schools. Charter schools are governed by a charter – a set of mutually agreed upon rules. In order to receive federal & state funding, many follow many of the same rules of public schools but many operate on a smaller scale, meaning their rules/programs many vary greatly.

What’s the Big Deal with Teaching in Charter Schools?

Pros And Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools

Working in the public school system can be exhausting. Teachers often deal with behavioral problems, testing pressure for local districts, and stress from administration. I know teachers who have suffered heart attacks and anxiety attacks at school. I know teachers who suffer from PTSD. Teaching is a stressful job. That’s why many teachers feel the allure of working in a smaller school where they may have a greater say over the content they teach and feel less pressure surrounding testing.

Pros of Teaching in Charter Schools

Pros And Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools

Charter schools tend to be smaller. The quality and consistency of schools generally varies greatly depending on where you work. I liken the experience to working in a corporate office vs. working in a mom and pop store. It’s hard to generalize mom and pop businesses because are all run independently, so please remember to research any potential schools thoroughly before teaching in any charter schools (or any schools)!

  1. Innovative Teaching Methods
    • Flexibility in Curriculum: Charter schools often grant teachers more freedom to design and implement curricula that are tailored to their students’ needs. This flexibility allows for the incorporation of creative and innovative teaching methods that may not be possible in more rigid, traditional school settings.
    • Creative Autonomy: Teachers in charter schools typically enjoy greater autonomy to experiment with new pedagogical approaches and educational tools. This freedom can lead to more engaging and effective teaching practices, enhancing the learning experience for students.
  2. Smaller Class Sizes
    • Personalized Attention: Many charter schools boast smaller class sizes compared to their public school counterparts. This allows teachers to provide more individualized attention to each student, fostering a more personalized and supportive learning environment.
    • Stricter Acceptance Policy: Charter schools are public schools but they are not community schools. That means every student has a home school and if they do not fit the school environment, charter schools do have the option to send students back to their local community schools.
  3. Professional Development Opportunities
    • Growth and Learning: Charter schools often emphasize continuous professional development, offering teachers extensive opportunities for growth and learning. This focus on professional development can help educators stay current with the latest teaching strategies and educational research, ultimately benefiting their students.
  4. Collaboration
    • Team Environment: The collaborative culture in many charter schools encourages teachers to work closely with their colleagues. This team-oriented environment allows for the sharing of best practices and strategies, fostering a supportive and dynamic workplace.
  5. Mission-Driven Environment
    • Shared Vision: Charter schools typically operate with a clear mission and vision that aligns with the school’s educational philosophy. Teachers who share this vision may find working in such an environment highly motivating and fulfilling, as they are part of a community with shared goals and values.
  6. Parent and Community Involvement
    • Engagement: Higher levels of parent and community involvement are often a hallmark of charter schools. This engagement can create a more supportive and enriching environment for both teachers and students, as parents and community members actively participate in the educational process.

In summary, teaching in charter schools offers numerous advantages, from innovative teaching opportunities and smaller class sizes to robust professional development and a collaborative work environment. For educators seeking a dynamic and mission-driven workplace, charter schools can provide a fulfilling and rewarding career path.

Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools

Pros And Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools
  1. Job Security and Stability
    • Uncertain Employment: Charter schools often operate on contracts that need to be renewed regularly, which can lead to less job security compared to traditional public schools. Teachers might face non-renewal of contracts or school closures, creating an uncertain employment environment.
    • Variable Funding: The funding for charter schools can be inconsistent, relying on grants, donations, and other sources. This variability can lead to financial instability, impacting job security and the availability of resources.
  2. Longer Working Hours
    • Increased Workload: Teachers in charter schools often report longer working hours, including after-school activities, administrative tasks, and additional responsibilities that go beyond classroom teaching.
    • Burnout Risk: The increased demands and longer hours can lead to higher stress levels and potential burnout, affecting teachers’ well-being and job satisfaction.
  3. Limited Resources
    • Funding Challenges: Charter schools may have limited access to resources and funding compared to traditional public schools. This can affect the availability of classroom materials, technology, and support services essential for effective teaching and learning.
  4. Benefits and Salary
    • Compensation: Salaries in charter schools can be lower and less competitive than those in traditional public schools. This can be a significant drawback for teachers seeking financial stability and growth.
    • Health and Retirement: Charter schools might offer less comprehensive health and retirement benefits, which can impact long-term financial security and well-being for teachers.
  5. Accountability and Pressure
    • Performance Metrics: High accountability standards and pressure to meet performance metrics can create a stressful environment for teachers. The emphasis on student performance and standardized testing can overshadow holistic and creative teaching approaches.
    • Testing Emphasis: A strong focus on standardized testing and performance metrics can detract from the development of critical thinking, creativity, and other important skills in students.
  6. Governance and Leadership
    • Management Issues: The quality of leadership and governance in charter schools can vary significantly. Poor management can lead to a challenging working environment, impacting teacher morale and effectiveness.
    • Autonomy Challenges: While autonomy is a benefit, it can also mean less oversight and support from district-level administration. This lack of support can make it difficult for teachers to navigate challenges and secure the resources they need.

In summary, while charter schools offer unique opportunities, they also come with significant challenges. Job security, workload, limited resources, and benefits are critical factors that educators must consider. The high accountability standards and variable quality of leadership can add to the complexity of teaching in charter schools. Educators should carefully weigh these cons against the potential benefits to make an informed decision about their careers.

Additional Points to Consider When Deciding If Teaching in Charter Schools is For You:

Pros And Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools

Just like with any job it’s important to consider the pros and cons of teaching in charter schools. You might need job stability or a retirement plan. On the other hand, maybe you want more flexibility in your classes or the local charter school is closer to your home.

  1. Research the charter school before your interview. This is true for all job interviews, but places like Glassdoor offer reviews from employees. Ask colleagues if they know anyone who’s worked at a Get a sense of the work environment.
  2. Read up on the charter school’s educational philosophy. Does the charter’s mission statement align with your teaching philosophy? School’s vary. Some are more academic and some are more play-based.
  3. Prepare a list of interview questions prior to your interview. Ask questions like: What is the pay scale? What is the potential for growth? Is there a comparable retirement plan? Does the school offer professional development?

Resources for Educators

I compiled a list of resources to help prepare you for teaching in charter schools. Before you move to any school, consider the pros and cons of the location, the students, and the administration.

  1. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
    • Provides comprehensive resources and information about charter schools across the United States.
  2. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
    • A primary source for data and statistics on charter schools and other educational institutions in the U.S.
  3. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – Charter Schools
    • Provides information and resources from a teachers’ union perspective, focusing on the experiences and rights of charter school teachers.
  4. Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO)
    • Conducts research and publishes reports on the performance and impact of charter schools nationwide.

Conclusion: Teaching in Charter Schools

Pros And Cons of Teaching in Charter Schools

I think teaching in charter schools can provide the right people with a great teaching experience. I’ve worked in bad public schools and I know how draining they can be for teachers. I’ve seen many great teachers leave education because teaching became overwhelming. My nieces are homeschooled and belong to a homeschool charter. They have a great teacher and they love their charter. That being said, you need to consider the pros and cons of teaching in charter schools before making the leap.

Teaching in charter schools presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges. While the potential for innovative teaching methods, smaller class sizes, and professional growth is appealing, the trade-offs in job security, workload, and resources can be significant.

    If you have any questions or need further information, leave a comment below or reach out via my blog.

    Good luck and have a wonderful new school year!

    Valerie de la Rosa


    I am an educator with almost 15 years of experience teaching in Japan, Hawaii, and in Los Angeles. My goal is to change education and the way we view literacy instruction in America.

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