How to navigate & understand charter schools in Oakland?

Hi there, 

First I would like to preface yes we ARE looking at OUSD public schools. Please don't judge this question. 

Just trying to understand all options, where to look and how to evaluate.  How do we understand the charter school system, advice and options?

Looking for elementary school.

Thanks in advance.

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All charter schools are public schools.  They are free.  OUSD runs some charter schools, so they are OUSD public schools.  Oakland also has some charter schools that are not affiliated with OUSD.  We went to a public charter school located in Oakland for one year.  At our school I believe the requirement was just that you live in Alameda County, but by late summer they were full.  I hope you get some good responses to your post, because this was about 8 years ago, so I don't know any current info, but I think some have more intricate applications or lottery systems or things like that, not sure.

Just to clarify, OUSD does not run any charter schools--all charters are, by definition, independent of a school district, but may be authorized by a local school board, a county school board, or the State Board of Education. Oakland has some of each, but all are run by their own boards and administrators. The lottery system for each school depends on the conditions of its charter--sometimes they give priority to students who live in nearby OUSD school zones, or who live in Oakland or Alameda County. Others are open to any student in California and weight those applications equally. By law all schools must offer spots by lottery, factoring in the various priorities outlined in their charters. You might start with the website, which includes information on both District and charter schools in Oakland. I recommend visiting all of the schools you're considering (and a couple that you aren't!) and asking similar questions. Some schools (both district and charter) offer particular programs (e.g., language immersion or an arts focus), and each will have a different set of before and after-school opportunities that might also factor into your decision. For charters specifically, you may also want to ask how long they plan to be in their current locations--several are actively in search of new facilities. Good luck with the search!

Regarding the previous comment, I wouldn’t trust what the charters say about their plans to stay in their locations. Their locations are decided for the most part by the Oakland school board. Three years ago, a charter in deep East Oakland told me that they had plans to move to a more desirable location, but they are still in the same spot. My child’s public school is expanding into a location that currently houses a charter school, and the charter school did not inform current parents until after it was public knowledge at our school. The total lack of control over location is a major drawback to charters.