Public school districts try to provide new opportunities through varied curricular choices and enhanced programs.
But a different model exists charter schools.
"The future looks bright," Dr. Doug Allen, chief educational officer of Tidioute Community Charter School said of both TCCS and the charter movement, generally. "TCCS will prosper because it serves a community as the community wants to be served. Harmony is maintained as the people belong to the school. There is a community feeling. That is why charters succeed."
Tidioute Community Charter School
Allen speculated that the charter movement will continue to grow. "I believe the number (of charters) will increase to about double current numbers in Pennsylvania and then the number will level off," he said. Such a jump would be from the current 136 charter schools to approximately 270.
Such growth though may come more slowly than the initial rush of charter schools after the charter law was originally passed. "The reasons for charters are getting more difficult to approve," said Allen.
But challenges remain.
"The challenge we will face is that we rely on money over a relatively short of time," Allen said. "Charters need to be renewed for 10 years, not 5 years, in order to be more stable and progressive. We cannot borrow money if we exist for only five years. We cannot make strong long range plans if we do not have more guarantees for existence."
That means that charters may need to be freed from some regulations that apply to public schools.
"Charters need to be risk taking entities," Allen explained. "We need to ask ourselves how we can serve better in some ways that the public school. That theme was the theme of the lawmakers 15 years ago when charters began."
He said that charters currently only make up 10 percent of schools in the nation.
"Lawmakers felt that charters could succeed if given less regulation so why not experiment a bit," he asked.
"Charter schools are supposed to offer new or unique opportunities to help children learn," Allen explained. "They are expected to be unique, offer social services and to flex in approaches to student learning. Most charters are not unionized in Pennsylvania. Charters still must be audited and must offer special education services and Title I services. They may not discriminate in enrollment."
The bottom line for success in the future?
"They may be successful as they narrow their focus more than public schools," said Allen.