Looking at Non-Traditional Schools

Looking at Non-Traditional Schools

To help you decide if you might want to teach in a non-traditional school, read TOPS: Teaching Opportunities in Private Schools.

Charter Schools
Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations). They are subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools, but generally have more flexibility than traditional public schools. Charter schools are expected to produce certain results, set forth in each school's charter. Charter schools are attended by choice. They foster a partnership between parents, teachers and students to create an environment in which parents can be more involved, teachers are given the freedom to innovate and students are provided the structure they need to learn, with all three held accountable for improved student achievement.

Charter schools are public schools which operate independently of the school district; however, they are:
  • tuition-free and open to every student who wishes to enroll
  • non-sectarian, and do not discriminate on any basis
  • publicly funded by local, state and federal tax dollars based on enrollment, like other public schools
  • held accountable to state and federal academic standards

Charter schools do not impose conditions for admissions. Chartering authorizers, entities that may legally issue charters, differ from state to state, as do the bodies that are legally entitled to apply for and operate under such charters. Charter applicants may include local school districts, institutions of higher education, non-profit corporations, and, in some states, for-profit corporations.
Many of the state departments of education also list them either separately or along with their job listings for public schools.

Look at websites of the large charter school companies. It helps to know which ones are operating the schools where you want to teach. Here is a sampling of some of the charter school companies’ websites:

  • Imagine Schools operates in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
  • Mosaica Education operates schools in California, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.
  • Charter Schools USA operates schools and assists developers and agencies in planning, financing, constructing, and running charter schools.
  • Aspire Public Schools only operates in California and Tennessee, but serves 12,000 students.
  • The Leona Group operates schools in Michigan, Arizona, Florida, and Ohio. They operate many urban schools where their philosophy is that every child can and will learn, regardless of ethnicity, economic, or educational disadvantage.

By checking the state department of education for the state where you’d like to teach, you will be able to determine who operates which schools and what jobs are open. There are companies that operate in only one state such as Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) in California. In some states, like Indiana, a university (Ball State University) operates most of the charter schools and a city (Indianapolis) operates others. There is a wide variation from state to state.

Private Schools (Including Pre-Schools)
Private schools, also known as independent schools or non-state schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students tuition, rather than relying on mandatory taxation through public (government) funding. At some private schools students may be able to get a scholarship, which makes the cost cheaper, depending on a talent the student may have—e.g. sports scholarship, art scholarship, academic scholarship. Private schools are typically more expensive than their public counterparts, often costing $15,000−40,000 per year.

Religiously affiliated and denominational schools form a subcategory of private schools. Some such schools teach religious education, together with the usual academic subjects to instill their particular faith's beliefs and traditions in the students who attend. Others use the denomination as more of a general label to describe the founders’ beliefs, while still maintaining a fine distinction between academics and religion. They include parochial schools, a term which is often used to denote Roman Catholic schools. Other religious groups represented in the K-12 private education sector include Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and the Orthodox Christians.

Many educational alternatives, such as independent schools, are also privately financed. Private schools often avoid some state regulations, although in the name of educational quality, most comply with regulations relating to the educational content of classes. Religious private schools often simply add religious instruction to the courses provided by local public schools.

Special assistance schools aim to improve the lives of their students by providing services tailored to very specific needs of individual students. Such schools include tutoring schools and schools to assist the learning of handicapped children.

The Private School Review will help you learn more about 300,000 private schools in the United States. Preschools are also listed. Search for schools by location, then click on the school you are interested in, then go to its website and type “open jobs” into the Search box to learn if there are any open positions. The state department of education website may also list the openings, but this gives you an opportunity to learn more about the schools.

To search for jobs in independent schools, including preschools, use the website of the National Association of Independent Schools.

Another site for teaching in private schools is Council for American Private Education. Click the button on the left for “Private School Job Banks.” This includes links to the organizations for a number of Christian schools, Catholic schools, Independent schools, Montessori schools, and Seventh-Day Adventist Schools.

Online Schools
  • Mosaica operates online schools in most states and several countries internationally.

Other Types of Schools
Alternative Schools: Alternative schools are often run by school districts for at-risk students or those who have already had extreme trouble with traditional school. As with charters, there are a variety of ways these schools are operated—the school district, the state, a not-for-profit group, or a charter school company. Alternative schools are non-tuition public schools. Some even accept adults. To read more about the various types, go to the website of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. Before you accept a job in an alternative school, be sure you understand how it works and you are comfortable with the teaching situation and will have a mentor.