I'll probably write about this topic fairly often. There are LOTS of reasons that charter schools are more effective at increasing student academic achievement. First, I should note that not all charter schools are the same and therefore their results vary, even if they use the same curriculum.
Charter schools work because of the passion for excellence in the school's leadership. This is most likely the combination of the governing board (parents &/or community members) and school administration. Some other time I'll comment more in-depth about charter school principals, but this time I'm going to focus on the passion and drive in governing board members.
There have been studies about the characteristics of people who start charter schools: entrepeneurial spirit, think "outside the box," a "can-do" attitude, etc. Most often I see people who are dedicated to seeing children become successful adults. This is not limited to parents believing only their children should be successful. It goes far beyond that.
Many charter school developers do not make good board members once the school is open. Some continue to be dynamic leaders of the school they helped create. Just the process to open a charter school requires endless hours of determination and a willingness to learn and ask questions.
I often tell people who just get their school approved, "Now your work truly begins." I can see the look of disappointment on their face because the charter application process could be compared to giving birth. For some, it's a long and very difficult labor. Who wants to hear that once that baby has been born the real work begins?
The real heroes of charter schools are the parents who have sacrified family time and put their personal lives on hold while they work on a new charter school, often bucking the system and making waves. Some charter schools honor their founders either through an annual "Founder's Day" or by recognizing them at celebrations. Our state has many such heroes who started the first charter schools and also continue today. Through this venue, I'd like to write about some of the incredible people I've met over the years! Watch for more on this topic!