When choosing a school for your child, it helps to know what types of schools are available. With terms like “charter school” and “IB school” being thrown around, it can be difficult to tell what’s what, so the following guide is designed to help clear up the confusion.
Public and private schools
Public schools, also known as state schools, are funded and administered through the state government, and much of that funding comes from taxpayer money. Most public schools offer state-required grade-school or high-school education, though some colleges are also considered state schools. Public schools do not charge tuition.
Public schools are governed by a school board and must adhere to their policies. In addition, enrollment in a public school is open and available to anyone.
Private schools are not funded or administered by the government and do not have to adhere to certain state regulations. Their funding comes from tuition fees or private funding. These schools are more selective about their enrollment, and many offer scholarships to promising students to help reduce tuition costs.
Private schools are often perceived as having a better quality of education than public schools, but this is debatable.
A Catholic school is a school that integrates Catholic religious teachings into its core curriculum. These schools are designed to educate children while also teaching them to be good practitioners of the Catholic faith. Many of these schools are associated with a local parish or church.
Catholic schools are typically private and much of their funding comes from donations and tuition fees. Catholic schools tend to be more expensive to attend as a result.
A charter school is a state-funded school that is not bound by the same rules and regulations as other public schools. Teachers and other school officials have more freedom in developing curriculum and setting academic policies. Many charter schools are governed by a corporation or organization. One example of a Chicago charter school organization is UNO.
Charter schools are often held to a higher academic standard and are held accountable for producing certain academic results, which are outlined in a charter that is developed and signed upon the school’s opening. As a result, charter schools are not held to the same standards as other public schools—they only need fulfill the goals set forth in their charter.
Charter schools are considered part of the public school system and do not charge tuition. Attending a charter school is entirely optional, but enrollment is limited and on a “first come, first served” basis. Once a school’s enrollment is full, they offer students a chance to enter an open lottery for a chance to fill a vacated spot.
Like private schools, charter schools are often perceived to provide a better education than public schools; however, there is no concrete proof that charter schools are any better than non-charter schools.
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Schools that offer IB curriculum follow structured programs offered by the International Baccalaureate Organization in Switzerland. Chicago Public Schools offers three IB programs: Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma. These programs are highly regarded worldwide.
Parents must apply to enroll their children in IB programs. Find out more at http://www.cps.edu/Programs/Academic_and_enrichment/InternationalBaccalaureate/Pages/IBHome.aspx.
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