Public vs Charter Schools: What Are the Differences?

Thanks to the support of the government, public and charter schools saw a rise in growth. But what are the differences between public vs charter schools?

Before you commit to a charter school, you need to view the differences between public vs charter schools. No two schools are exactly alike. While some differing features may not matter, there are key differences to be aware of.

Let’s talk about the difference between public schools and charter schools. Read on!

Defining Public vs Charter Schools

Public schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are open to all students. Charter schools are public schools that are independently operated. Both types of schools are held to state educational standards.

The main difference between public and charter schools is who controls the school. Public schools are managed by the local school board, while charter school is by an appointed board of directors.

School Funding

Though charter schools are public schools, there are some key distinctions. Most notably, is that they tend to be far better funded than traditional public schools.

This is because they are able to access a wider range of public funding sources. This includes private donations that public schools do not have access to.

This can give charter schools a significant financial advantage over public schools. Finally, charter schools are usually much smaller than public schools, which means they have fewer overhead costs.

All these factors can make a big difference in the quality of education that a child receives.

Enrollment and Admission

Public schools are free and open to all students who live within a school district. But charter schools are public schools that are tuition-free but have an admittance process, somewhat similar to international school admission.

Public schools need to accept all students who live within their district. But charter schools may only enroll students who submit a successful application. They typically have longer school days and years than public schools.

Learning Programs

Public schools follow the set curriculum mandated by the state. But charter schools have the freedom to create their own curriculum. This means that they also have the freedom to select their own teaching methods and pacing.

Charter schools can tailor their programs to the needs of their students. But, public schools must teach the standard curriculum.

Educational Offerings

In terms of educational offerings, charter schools typically have more innovative and specialized programs than public schools. For example, a charter school might offer a program in entrepreneurship. But a public school might only have traditional academics.

This is not to say that public schools don’t offer unique programs. Many do – but charter schools typically have more freedom to design their curriculum.

Student Diversity

The most notable difference is in terms of student diversity. Public schools are required to accept all students, regardless of background or ability. This means that public schools tend to be more diverse, with a wider range of student abilities and backgrounds.

However, charter schools only accept a certain number of students. They often have selective admissions criteria. This can result in charter schools being less diverse and with a narrower range of student abilities and backgrounds.


Accountability is essential when comparing charter and public schools. Public schools are accountable only to the state.

On the other hand, charter schools are accountable to both the state and the local community. This gives them greater flexibility in how they operate. This also helps to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their students.

This accountability is evident in the public charter school model. This is through multiple measures including student achievement, organizational viability, and financial health.


One of the major differences between public and charter schools is transparency. Public schools share information about their finances, student performance, and operations with the public.

Charter schools are not required to do so. This lack of transparency can make it difficult for parents and community members to understand how charter schools. This makes it difficult to hold charter school leaders accountable for results.

Parent Involvement

For one, charter schools are often more focused on involving parents in the educational process and making them a part of the team. This can be a great benefit for parents who want to be more involved in their child’s education. This means that they don’t necessarily have to go through the process of becoming a teacher.

Another difference is that public schools are usually more focused on test scores and academic achievement. Charter schools often put more emphasis on the whole child and developing other areas such as social and emotional skills. This can be beneficial for parents who want their children to get a well-rounded education.

The Pros and Cons

A public school typically has more students and resources than a charter school. This can be beneficial because there are more programs and extracurricular activities available. But can be a disadvantage since large class sizes can make it difficult for students to receive individualized attention.

Charter schools often have a more focused curriculum than public schools. This can be an advantage if your child is interested in a particular subject or career path. It can be a disadvantage if your child’s interests change or if they need to transfer to a public school for any reason.

Learn the Difference Between a Public School vs Charter School Today

There are many differences between public vs charter schools. The most important difference is that charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated.

This means that charter schools have more freedom to innovate and experiment with educational models. This can lead to better outcomes for students.

It is important to remember that both public and charter schools are accountable to the taxpayer. Either school must provide a quality education for all students.

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