Learn more about Oakland’s charter public schools and how they serve our community
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Are Oakland's charter public schools really public schools?
Yes. Oakland’s charter public schools are part of our city’s public school system. Just like any other type of public school in our city, charter public schools are:
- Open to all students
- Staffed by certified educators
- Held accountable rules set by the Oakland Unified School District, the county and the state
How are students assigned to Oakland's charter public schools?
Families choose the charter public school that is right for their children. Students are never assigned automatically and charter public schools are not allowed to hand-pick students or discriminate against students for any reason. If a charter public school has more students apply than there is space available, students are admitted through a random public lottery.
Do Oakland's charter public schools serve all students?
Yes. All Oakland’s charter public schools serve all students. Enrollment in Oakland’s charter public schools reflects the same diversity as district-run public schools. Students at charter public schools come from all income levels, represent a wide variety of races and ethnicities, and speak many different languages.
Do Oakland's charter public schools serve students with special education needs?
Yes. Oakland’s charter public schools serve special education students with a wide range of needs, including students with severe disabilities.
How are charter public schools doing in preparing their students for success?
Eighty-seven percent of students at charter public schools in Oakland are graduating from high school within four years. Ninety-three percent of those students are graduating ready and eligible for college.
Do charter public schools “cherry-pick” the students they serve?
No. Oakland’s charter public schools serve students from all backgrounds including students from families struggling with poverty and trauma. They are not allowed to hand-pick their students for any reason. In fact, Oakland’s charter public schools serve a similar percentage of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds than district-run public schools.
Do charter public schools use no-excuses discipline or “counsel out” students who struggle?
No. The drop out rate at Oakland’s charter public schools is half the rate of district-run public schools. The suspension rate at Oakland’s charter public schools is about the same as at district-run public schools. Many charter public schools are now implementing restorative justice practices and learning from the district’s work towards eliminating student discipline inequities.
Who runs charter public schools in Oakland?
All of Oakland charter public schools are operated by local, non-profit organizations. Many of Oakland’s charter school leaders are dedicated educators who have lived and worked in Oakland and the surrounding Bay Area for the entirety of their careers.
Who is teaching at charter public schools in Oakland?
Oakland charter public school teachers are certified teachers just like teachers at district-run schools.
Do charter public school teachers and other employees have collective bargaining rights?
Yes. Charter public school teachers and other employees have a strong voice in the workplace. They have the right to organize and collectively bargain for pay, benefits and working conditions.
Do charter public schools in Oakland privatize education or turn a profit?
No. California state law does not allow private companies to run charter public schools.
Do charter public schools undermine public education in Oakland?
No. Charter public schools are an important part of public education in Oakland.
They add to the high-quality public school options for local families. One size does not fit all when it comes to student learning. Families need to be allowed to choose the schools that work best for their children.
Charter public schools are not the singular solution for all of the challenges facing public education in Oakland. More work needs to be done to lift all public schools in our city. But Oakland needs more great public schools, not fewer. And charter public schools are part of the solution.
All families want a great school for their children. Parents do not choose a charter public school to make a political statement. They choose the public school that fits the needs of their family.
What is the history of charter public schools in Oakland?
The first Oakland charter public school opened its doors in 1994, and was born out of parents’ desire for a high-quality public education alternative that offered flexibility to innovate and customized learning to meet their children’s needs. Today charter public schools make up 30% of Oakland’s public schools and serve more than 13,000 students. An increasing number of Oakland families are turning to charter public schools due their positive impact on students and most charter public schools start the year with a waitlist.
What makes charter public schools different from district-run public schools?
Charter public schools have more flexibility to innovate and customize learning to meet the needs of the diverse students they serve. In exchange for increased accountability, charter public schools have more flexibility in things like staffing, curriculum and length of the school day. Charter public schools are some of the most innovative public school options available in Oakland, with some offering specialized programs in:
- STEM education
- Performing arts
- Language immersion
How are Oakland’s charter public schools funded?
Like other public schools, charter public schools rely on a mix of federal and state funding. Because they receive less funding per student than district-run public schools and have to pay for their own facilities, charter public schools are doing more with less.
Do charter public schools drain resources from district-run public schools?
No. Charter public schools are funded based on student enrollment, just like district-run public schools. While they provide another public school option, they do not change current law stating that funding belongs to the student, not a particular public school.
What kind of accountability and oversight do charter public schools have?
Many checks and balances exist to ensure charter public schools deliver students with a quality education.
- Charter public schools in Oakland are overseen and held accountable by the Office of Charter Schools (OCS), an office within the Oakland Unified School District.
- Charter public schools in Oakland must comply with the same state and federal laws regarding health, safety, civil rights and nondiscrimination as every other type of public school in Oakland.
- Charter public school board meetings are held in accordance with the Brown Act, California’s open public meeting law.
- Charter public schools must meet the same academic standards as any public school; their teachers must meet the same certification requirements as any public school teachers; and students must pass the same standardized tests.
- Because enrollment is voluntary and parents are empowered to choose the school that best meets their child’s needs, charter public schools have the ultimate form of accountability to the families they serve.
How is ongoing oversight of charter public schools assured?
After a charter public school’s petition is approved, the school enters into a contractual relationship with the Oakland Unified School District or the Alameda County Office of Education. The contract requires extensive oversight of financial, academic and organizational performance. Charter public schools must seek reauthorization every five years.