Is a charter school right for your child? Tampa Bay area mom weighs in

RIVERVIEW, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s one of the most important decisions parents make: where to send their child to school.

With different options like public, private and charter schools, how do you know if a charter school is right for you?

“I feel like I have so much more control,” Jennifer Newlin of Riverview said.

She has three children who all attend Winthrop Charter School in Riverview. It is a decision she made when her oldest was entering kindergarten.

“We weren’t, at that time, able to keep him in private school so we wanted to see what our options were. I was okay putting him in the public school if that’s what it came to,” she said.

But, she entered his name in the lottery for Winthrop, and he was chosen. With charter schools, she says, she feels there are more chances and opportunities for her kids and more discipline, not just for kids but also teachers and parents.

“If you don’t follow those rules, you’ll be asked to leave the school,” she said. “There is such a waiting list that I don’t want to lose our spot, so I’d have to find other schools for all my kids.”

She says the rules keep teachers accountable as well.

She tells us choosing a charter school really comes down to what parents want for their children and what their children need in an education. It’s important to know what charter schools strengths and weaknesses are.

“Maybe in sports I have seen a little bit, not quite as robust with their sporting programs,” said Newlin.

But her children are more into the arts, she says, which is a good fit with Winthrop.

She knows a lot is at stake in charter schools and that often times makes education competitive.

“They have to maintain a certain level of academics for their kids and if the kids aren’t testing well, they could lose their charter,” said Newlin.

While it’s a big risk for her and her family, she says it’s been worth it.

She also encourages parents to do a good amount of research to find out who owns the charter and what kind of charter it is.

A common misconception with charter schools is that you have to pay tuition, however they are completely free, with many funds coming straight from the county.

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