Navigating Charter Schools: A Parent’s Guide to Making the Right Choice


Our unique model is about recognizing patterns and form new behaviors to fundamentally change the way we learn. Discover how to apply industry-proven decision making techniques to everyday life. Click here to learn more.

Amazon Link to Book

Navigating Charter Schools: A Parent’s Guide to Making the Right Choice

By: Dr. Joseph Kashiwagi

Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make as a parent. This is the place that your child will spend most of the day and you want it to be a safe, and enlightening environment. Each school is only as good as their teachers and the love and care that they give to the students in creating a good environment. This is probably the most important thing to realize when looking for a school! In recent years, charter schools have become an increasingly popular option for families seeking alternatives to traditional public schools. But what exactly are charter schools, and how do you know if they’re the right fit for your child? In this guide, we’ll break down everything parents need to know about choosing a charter school.

What Are Charter Schools?

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that operate independently of the traditional public school system. They are typically governed by their own board of directors and have more flexibility in their curriculum, teaching methods, and school policies. While they are publicly funded, they are often managed by private organizations, nonprofit groups, or for-profit companies. Having the flexibility to operate independently allows them to manage their payment rates for teachers, accommodations for unique students and many more things that traditional schools wouldn’t be able to do. This doesn’t mean that they are better than traditional. Some charter schools end up closing because of dysfunction in their organization.

Key Features of Charter Schools

  • Autonomy: Charter schools have more freedom to innovate and tailor their educational programs to meet the needs of their students. This is the whole reason that they are created. Giving students a different education than just the traditional setting.
  • Accountability: Although they have more autonomy, charter schools are still held accountable for their performance. They must meet certain academic and financial standards outlined in their charter agreement with the authorizing body, usually a local school district or state education agency. This is a little more than traditional but charters can also feel very similar in this aspect.
  • School Choice: Charter schools provide parents with additional options beyond their neighborhood public schools. Families can choose a charter school based on its unique mission, teaching approach, or specialized programs. If there is a public school that your student has had trouble in or doesn’t fit your child, then charters schools are a great opportunity that you wouldn’t get otherwise. It allows you to have a choice of which school to choose which will help you find the best one for your child.
  • Open Enrollment: In most cases, charter schools are open to all students, regardless of where they live. However, if demand exceeds capacity, they may use a lottery system to determine admissions. It might be frustrating that your charter school doesn’t have any slots left for your child. This is just something that is part of the school system and the better schools usually have more students that want to get into them. It is important to think ahead and look at options before those options go away.

Pros and Cons of Charter Schools


  1. Innovation: Charter schools have the flexibility to experiment with new teaching methods, curriculum designs, and educational approaches. You can find charters with traditional education but you find a wider variety of methods that accommodate to different students.
  2. Specialized Programs: Many charter schools offer specialized programs in areas such as STEM education, performing arts, or language immersion. This can be a significant benefit for students who already know what they want to do and have a passion for something. It allows them to learn from professionals into a career field that they are very interested in.
  3. Smaller Class Sizes: Some charter schools prioritize smaller class sizes, which can lead to more personalized attention for students. Usually, charter schools give your child more attention and love that isn’t possible in a public school which is a 1-30 teacher to student ratio. It is almost impossible for teachers to get to know your child deeper than at surface level.


  1. Lack of Oversight: Critics argue that charter schools lack the same level of oversight and transparency as traditional public schools, which can lead to issues with accountability and financial management. It all depends on the charter school and the credibility of its staff. The better the teachers and administration, then the better the school.
  2. Limited Resources: Charter schools often have fewer resources than traditional public schools, which can impact their ability to provide comprehensive support services and extracurricular activities. The lack of sports teams, equipment, and other resources is very relevant when making the decision.
  3. Selective Admissions: While charter schools are technically open to all students, some critics claim that they engage in selective admissions practices that disadvantage certain groups of students. If a student doesn’t fit into the school, then they have no obligation to accept them. It actually might be better for the student to be rejected than to find out that they don’t fit in with the rest of the students.

How to Choose the Right Charter School

  1. Research: Take the time to research different charter schools in your area. Consider factors such as their mission and educational philosophy, academic performance, and student demographics. I would personally look at the teachers and administration leaders.
  2. Visit the School: If possible, schedule a visit to the charter schools you’re interested in. This will give you a chance to observe the school environment, meet with teachers and administrators, and ask any questions you may have. This is a perfect time for your student to come and look and see how they like it.
  3. Consider Your Child’s Needs: Think about what kind of learning environment would best suit your child’s needs and interests. Are they interested in a particular subject or extracurricular activity? Do they thrive in smaller, more intimate settings, or do they prefer a larger school with more opportunities for socialization? The child is the most important factor.
  4. Talk to Other Parents: Reach out to other parents whose children attend the charter schools you’re considering. Ask about their experiences, both positive and negative, and get their perspective on what makes the school unique.
  5. Look Beyond Test Scores: I don’t believe test scores are very important when choosing a charter school. Pay attention to the school’s culture, values, and overall atmosphere, as these can have a significant impact on your child’s educational experience. If your child is smart then they will do well on tests regardless of the education.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a charter school for your child is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. Charter schools might not be the best option. By researching your options, visiting schools, and considering your child’s individual needs, you can make an informed choice that sets them up for success academically, socially, and emotionally. The parents who search for a better education for their child will find it. While charter schools may not be the right fit for every family, they offer a valuable alternative for parents seeking greater flexibility and innovation in their child’s education.


Arizona is leading the charge for educational choice. As one of the first states to open the door for innovative charter schools, Arizona offers a wide variety of schools to choose from. In the summer of 2023, Arizona passed a law that allows more state funding to be used for private schools as well as charter schools. Because of this change, Leadership Society of Arizona was able to support the grand opening of an innovative private school in August 2023. LeadAZ Private School has created a unique blended approach to homeschooling and in-person education. Students can set the pace of their education but they also get one-on-one access to a team of highly-qualified instructors. Every student creates their own customized education experience. To make this possible, LeadAZ maintains a ratio of only 4 to students to every 1 instructor.

Learn More!