A look at how charter schools work

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Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 6:21 pm | Updated: 9:03 pm, Wed Mar 20, 2013.

SARASOTA - Charter schools have become a popular choice for parents and students across the Suncoast, and many say that's because of their non traditional teaching style.

"Immediately said that's the school for me," said Hallie Mittick a senior at Manatee School For The Arts. She been attending the charter school off and on since 6th grade and according to her, there's been a major benefit.  "Here it was more focused on like teaching us, not just drilling it into us, but us remembering through song and repetition and things really seemed to stick when arts were incorporated," said Mittick.

Officials at Manatee School For The Arts say getting student to retain more information is their goal.  And charter schools have the ability to shape their teaching styles to meet the needs of their students. 

Assistant principal Terence Devine says it's one of many the things that make charter schools different from traditional public schools.  "We teach everything using the arts. In our math classes students sing to learn formulas. Or in history classes our students learn the amendments to the constitution through dance and they do dance moves for each amendment," said  Devine.

Officials at Manatee School for the Arts say they incorporate the arts in every aspect of learning, in hopes of making it fun for the children.  But despite the creative learning style all charter schools are still governed by state and federal guidelines.

"It's important that people understand that charter schools are public schools," said Dr Verdya Bradley the person in charge of charter school for Manatee County School Board.

Bradley says charter schools are publicly funded and monitored by school districts to make sure they meet the required curriculum.

"The only difference is a traditional public school is operate and managed sole by the district a charter school any private entity management company or even a college can start a charter school," said Bradley.

Those private entities have the authority to structure the schools any way they want as long as they meet the requirements.  And, for Manatee School for the Arts that means being different.

"Thinking out side the box is normal for us.  Through the arts and using different learning styles we focus on how students can achieve in different ways," said Devine.

Officials emphasize that one of the main differences between a charter school and a traditional public school is how the children are taught. Parents are encouraged to research the schools to make sure their teaching styles match their children learning style.   

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