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Different Types of Schools

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In addition to the factors described above, you need to understand each option before making a decision.

Transferring to Another Public School

One choice is to move your child to another public school, perhaps in a different neighborhood from the one they go to now. You may find that another public school, in a different neighborhood is a better place for your child to learn. Schools are different in different areas, so it is important to look in to other public schools that could match your child's needs better than the one they now go to. For instance if your child works better in small groups than in large ones, maybe there is a school a few extra miles away that might have smaller classroom sizes. Many cities and local boards of education have this information on line. 

Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools that are granted a "charter" or contract by the local school board to operate as if it were an independent school for a period of time (usually 3-5 years). During the contract period, charter schools are given a lot of freedom from regulations that other public schools have to follow. In return for this freedom, charter schools have to produce positive academic results during the charter period or the School Board may not renew their charter.

Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are specialized schools within the public school system that attract certain types of students. Many magnet schools have good reputations for teaching students, especially in their specialty areas. Students in magnet schools are surrounded by students who have similar interests to them. Some magnet school programs are whole school magnets, where all students in the school participate in the magnet program. Others are programs within school (PWS) magnets, where only a portion of the students in the school participated in the magnet program.

Many, if not most school districts now offer some type of magnet program. You can find the magnet schools in your district by doing the following:

1. Speak to Your Child's Teacher or Principal. Most teachers are very familiar with the magnet school programs in your school district. They can let you know if they think your child would benefit from one of these programs.

2. Visit the school. When you find a school that you and your child are interested in, call and ask to meet with the principal. Ask for a tour and ask to see a class in action. Find out what their "success" rate is and how long they have been in existence. The principal can tell you how long the waiting list is and how to apply.

3. Speak with Parents. Ask the principal for names of parents - both those who have children in the school and those who tried it and took their children out. Call the parents to find out what they think of the school.

Vouchers

A voucher is a letter that represents money. The voucher is given to parents to allow them to send their children to a school of their choice. Publicly funded voucher programs (also known as Full School Choice Programs) use money that would normally go to the regular public schools to pay for the program. Some states restrict the use of the vouchers, but others allow the parent to choose private, magnet, religious or home schooling for their child. So far, there are only publicly funded voucher programs operating in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Cleveland, Ohio and one county in Florida. However, there are several privately funded voucher programs (also called Private Scholarship Programs) in dozens of cities across the country (Atlanta, New York City, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and others).

Private Schools

Private schools charge tuition but generally offer more resources, attention, and opportunities for your child.

Catholic Schools

Catholic schools are run by the Catholic Church. They cost less than other private schools and are known for their strict discipline. They are open to non-Catholics but do include Catholic instruction.

Home Schooling

Many states allow parents to educate their children at home rather than in public or private school. People home school for a variety of reasons. Most of them are unhappy with their child's public school for one reason or another. Home school parents believe they can do a better job than the school. Some parents do not like the atmosphere of the school and think there is too much violence or other problems and they want to protect their children from those situations. Some parents choose home schooling to create a closer knit family unit. Finally, some children do not learn well in a classroom setting and would do better at a home school.

Home schooling is a lifestyle and a commitment. Once you decide to home school your child, you have to prepare the work, plan the classes, teach them and test your student(s). It takes a lot of time to be a home school teacher.

Many school districts do not like the idea of home schooling and for that reason, they usually aren't very good resources for how to get started. Local home schooling groups are usually the best source of precise information about how to fulfill the requirements of the law in your state. Many groups have information packets for new home schoolers which include information about laws and regulations.

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