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Charter School Potential

This is Part III in a series dedicated to National Charter Schools Week, and to community members and parents everywhere who mobilize to improve education for their children.

Upon hearing that their local elementary school was closing, parents and community members of small town Spartansburg, PA decided to take matters into their own hands to make sure their kids still have a viable, local school option.

So, they decided to start the process for opening a charter school, and even went so far as to decide it should have a unique agricultural focus.

In a true showing of grassroots and community spirit, the neighborhood fire department hosted an auction and bake sale in support of the charter school, one of several fundraisers slated to take place (let’s not forget, after all, that charter schools get 37 percent less funding than traditional public schools).

Fully aware of the long road before them and funding inequity, the people of Spartansburg are doing what many aspiring and current charter school leaders are compelled to do, which is get creative and improvise when it comes to securing funding.

Financial challenges such as obtaining public funds to cover facility costs is an issue with which charter operators are all too familiar, caused mainly by inherent flaws in state charter school legislation.

Numerous media reports tend to focus on how charter schools are transforming education for the better in urban centers. While it’s important not to overlook these successes, it’s also critical to note that parents in rural and small town settings can also demand input and influence in education, and Parent Power is a civil right that expands to major cities and beyond.

The inspiring efforts in Spartansburg epitomize the concept of a parent-driven charter school, and why charter laws at the state level need to be structurally reformed to meet growing demand.


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