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Why the Charter School Movement Is Sweeping New Hampshire

Sep 25, 2012 01:15AM ● By Erin Frisch

Why the Charter School Movement Is Sweeping New Hampshire

Charter schools have been defined loosely as institutions for schooling that are supported with public funding and offer tuition-free enrollment. In addition, they may have rules, requirements, and principles that differ from those of public schools, providing they maintain certain levels of academic excellence among their students. Charter schools often focus on a specific subject or trade, such as mathematics or cosmetology. While some people compare charter schools to vocational schools, the connections only partially apply, as vocational schools follow the same rules and regulations as public school institutions.

A surefire way of determining whether any academic program is successful is to analyze enrollment numbers on an annual basis. That being said, there is no mistaking the popularity of charter schools. They have so many students registering to enroll, in fact, that they often have to hold lottery-like drawings to determine which students will be granted enrollment in a given year. In other words, the proof is definitely in the pudding. But what explains the sudden increase in charter schools in the Granite State? Several key aspects of this movement are credited.

The state of New Hampshire has not been a stranger to the concept of charter schools. The first example of one of these schools in this area dates back to the 17th century. Clearly, the charter school is a concept that educators, state legislators, and citizens have been tinkering with for decades, if not centuries. With such an extensive history of charter schools in New Hampshire, it comes as no surprise that there are specific laws in place in this state to ensure the safety, security, and efficacy of such educational institutions.

New Hampshire differs from other states in the execution of its charter schools. This state’s charter schools not only target students who are economically disadvantaged but also use “themed” charter schools, previously described, that focus on a specific discipline of study or a trade of interest. Charter schools in NH are noted for focusing heavily on the success of their students in the trade that is being taught, with less emphasis give to general academic subjects. By doing so, they ensure that their students leave these institutions with the necessary sets of skills to pursue the trades they want to work in successfully.

Another unique characteristic of charter schools in the Granite State is that they work cooperatively with public educational facilities. Public schools in New Hampshire generally do not offer vocational training, so charter schools offer excellent alternatives to traditional schools and help meet the needs of students whose interests lie outside of a general academic education.

An important factor in the success of New Hampshire’s charter schools is a direct correlation to the population density in the area where the school is located. This has been noted as being an issue for New Hampshire throughout the years. It was recognized that with specialized vocational institutions, it was more difficult to attract a high number of students for enrollment. Therefore, charter schools have revamped several suburban institutions to focus on general education and to increase the number of students who can be served. With many innovative methods of teaching and specific focuses on particular disciplines and trades, the concept of charter schools makes good sense. And in terms of popularity, they’re taking off like bottle rockets in the Granite State.

How do you feel about the Charter School movement?

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