charter elementary school students kids

Sponsored Links:
Students at Harlem Success Academy, a free, public elementary charter school in New York. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Both President Donald Trump and his newly confirmed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, are vocal advocates of giving families alternatives to public school, which Trump has called "a government-run monopoly."

DeVos, in particular, has championed vouchers — publicly funded credits parents can use to send their kids to the school of their choosing.

Many of those schools are charter schools, private schools, or magnet schools.

Here's what differentiates them.

Private schools

Private schools may be the most popular of the three, not to mention the most straightforward.

Instead of receiving taxpayer dollars to teach a standard, federally mandated curriculum, private schools charge tuition to teach outside those constraints.

The Taft School, private schools Students at the Taft School, a private school in Watertown, Connecticut. YouTube/The Taft School

Depending on the state, private schools may still need to teach certain subjects to keep consistent with public schools.

The vouchers DeVos supports most often apply to private schools — a move viewed by many public-school teachers as harmful to the system because it siphons taxpayer money away from public schools.

Sponsored Links:

Students may also get scholarships or grants to attend private schools, similar to how the university system functions.

Charter schools

At their most basic level, charter schools are schools that are privately run but publicly funded. They are free to deviate from most state guidelines — excluding tests — and can range in size from one student at home to thousands across the country.

Popular charter schools include New York's Success Academy network, which has 41 branches, and the BASIS network in Arizona, Texas, and Washington, DC, which comprises 21 charter schools.

According to recent estimates, about 3 million students in the US attend charter schools.

As their name implies, charter schools must adhere to their specific charter. Some charters focus on engineering and math; others focus on the arts. They have school boards and management organizations that regulate their operations and employ teachers, similar to public school boards and districts.

kipp charter school

Sponsored Links:
Students at the KIPP Bridge charter school in San Francisco. Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Magnet schools

Magnets — so named for their ability to draw students across district lines — are specialized public schools. They're similar to charters in offering nontraditional courses, but they are wholly public in both their funding and operation.

They emerged in the 1970s as a remedy to racial segregation in public schools. Many of them were in poorer areas with larger minority populations, the idea being to pull white students into these areas.

Popular magnets include the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas and the Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston, South Carolina.

There are about 2,700 magnets across the US compared with 5,300 charters and 33,600 private schools.