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Find out more about Clackamas Middle College

What's the Difference Between a Public School and a Charter School?

Making the right school decision for your student can be a tough one. Let the education specialists at Clackamas Middle College help you understand the nuances between these options so you can make the best decision for your young learner.

Finding the right school for your child can be an extremely daunting experience. Public, private, home, charter schools — ugh, what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? Where do you even start?
Having the right school experience can set them on a path that helps them be more successful in the world, whether that means college, a vocational school, or just in their broader day-to-day relationships, and since not all schools align with all different types of learning styles, the school you choose for your child can be crucial.
We want to help you understand the differences, so that you can focus less time on researching to make the right decision and more time with the peace of mind knowing that your young learner is supported in achieving their goals.

What is a charter school?
Charter schools are publicly and privately funded, independently operated schools. Though they are usually community-driven schools, they are not beholden to traditional public school systems. Instead, many charter schools are monitored by and contracted with what is called an authorizer. An authorizer, typically a government agency though there are other examples, works with the school in order to assess school effectiveness and student success.
Accountability is key when it comes to charter schools. Unlike public schools that must work with numerous unions and other bodies in order to maintain their operations, charter schools have clear metrics for success, and frequently survey all aspects of a school community — students, parents and guardians, instructors, and so on — in order to gather important data to make critical decisions for the betterment of the school.
Public schools typically take longer in their efforts to update or adapt curriculum and can offer fewer specialized learning scenarios than charter schools can.

Why should I choose a charter school for my child?
Charter schools, unlike public schools, can be quite varied in their curriculum offerings, and excel in their ability to provide more personalized instruction than their public school counterparts.

This is precisely what makes charter schools so appealing for so many families — they exist to fill gaps in the education system where one-size-fits-all approaches to instruction and learning are the norm.
At Clackamas Middle College, for instance, our emphasis is on student preparedness for their post-high school secondary education.
Qualifying students can learn skills that help prepare them for the college experience, or they can earn their high school diploma and college credits simultaneously in an environment that encourages curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, and community building — life skills that will help them in their academic careers and beyond.
Can all students attend a charter school?
Public schools typically rely on strict boundaries to determine whether or not students can attend, making geography the determining factor in a child’s education vs. their unique needs.
Boundary exceptions can be requested but are not always awarded, leaving families stuck in educational situations that are less than ideal for their young learners.
Charter schools, on the other hand, cannot deny a student’s admission into their school, barring the student’s inability to meet certain academic standards as stipulated by the school, or if the student has attendance issues that are causing a hindrance to their academic performance.
District boundaries aren’t an issue in charter schools, but transportation like busing is not typically offered to charter school-attending students.
Drawing in students from all over the greater Portland Metro area, as we do at Clackamas Middle College, means that we have a more diverse student population than most schools, creating an even more enriching learning environment for our students.
How can I learn more about charter schools for my student?
We believe that the best way to learn whether or not a charter school is the right choice for your student is to go directly to the source! Contact Clackamas Middle College today.
It would be our pleasure to answer any questions you might have about our academic philosophy, curriculum, community engagement efforts, as well as success metrics that reflect our student body’s success over the last 12 years.