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Embracing Charter Schools for a Brighter Future in Wyoming

This opinion piece is by the Wyoming Public Charter Schools Association.
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Imagine a world where families have the power to choose the best educational path for their children. We're fortunate that families now have more public school options as charter schools slowly but surely integrate with our public school system. These independent, publicly funded, and tuition-free K-12 public schools offer a unique opportunity to tailor education to the needs of the community.

As the newly established Wyoming Public Charter Schools Association, we proudly advocate for these innovative public schools that provide invaluable alternatives for students and families across our state. Charter schools are becoming a vital part of Wyoming's public education landscape, and every parent deserves the freedom to choose the best educational path for their child.

The number of charter schools in Wyoming is growing, with thriving schools in Laramie, Cheyenne, and Riverton leading the way. In fact, two public charter schools in Cheyenne, PODER Academy and PODER Academy Secondary School, were among the 12 schools statewide that maintained a rating of "exceeding expectations" for the third year in a row, according to the Wyoming Department of Education.

The opening of two new charter schools in Mills and Chugwater this year represents a significant step towards increasing educational freedom for students and families in the state.

Charter schools are public schools, free and open to all. They are not private schools. In exchange for increased flexibility to customize their curriculum and teaching methods, charter schools must meet rigorous standards outlined in their charter and be held accountable to these metrics by their authorizer to remain open. And, more importantly, charter schools are held accountable to the families and communities they serve.  

One of the key factors contributing to the success of charter schools is innovation. These schools offer administrators and teachers the flexibility to design curriculum and teaching methods that consider a variety of learning styles, treating each child as an individual. By personalizing education, charter schools create an environment where all children can thrive and succeed. 

One of the roles of charter schools is to bridge educational gaps and provide equal opportunities for all students. Charter schools welcome students from diverse backgrounds, including those with special needs.  

Like traditional public schools, charter schools accept any student who applies on a first-come, first-served basis. If the number of applicants for enrollment exceeds the number of available seats, a charter school must hold a public and blind lottery for enrollment. Charter schools strive to create inclusive environments where every child can learn, grow, and succeed to reach their full potential by offering tailored support and individualized learning plans.

What sets charter schools apart is their focus on student interests. Each charter school has a unique mission and specialization – for example, Montessori learning at the charter schools in Laramie, college preparation at the PODER schools in Cheyenne, classical education at the charter school in Mills, and a project-based curriculum at Prairie View Community School in Chugwater.

Another exceptional aspect of charter schools is their strong ties to the communities they serve. Charter schools have the flexibility to tailor their programs to address the specific challenges and strengths of their locality. They act as educational hubs, collaborating closely with parents, community leaders, and local businesses to ensure students are well-prepared for the future workforce or further academic pursuits.

The Wyoming Public Charter Schools Association is proud to celebrate the growth of charter schools in Wyoming and recognize the value they bring to our education system. We embrace the opportunities they provide to empower parents and communities and look forward to fostering an environment where the innovation of customized education experiences or the reimplementation of classical techniques can be an option to benefit all children in Wyoming.