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Charter Schools 101


• Sam Duell

ExcelinEd’s new Opportunity Learning Hub offers quick, efficient videos for people interested in policies that expand educational opportunity. Take a look at these videos in the Hub’s Public Charter Schools series to become a more proficient advocate for education choice!

What are public charter schools?

Today, more than 3 million students in the US attend a public charter school. What exactly is a public charter school? Public Charter schools are tuition-free public schools open to all students and held to state academic and financial standards. Unlike traditional public schools, however, public charter schools are run independently of school districts and, instead, operate under a performance contract with an authorizer (a district, the state, or another approved entity). In exchange for more operational autonomy, public charter schools are held accountable for student success. So what are public charter schools? Learn more in just two minutes:

What is a public charter school authorizer?

Unlike traditional public schools, public charter schools are run independently of school districts operating under a performance contract—or charter—with an authorizer. These entities are important, ensuring charter schools fulfill their mission. The most common public charter school authorizers are local school districts, which account for about 90 percent of all authorizers. The types of authorizers allowed vary by state law, and they can be a school district, the state, a university, or another approved entity. Learn more about why public charter schools are important in this three-minute video.


Learn more about public charter schools and other education opportunity policies on our new Opportunity Learning Hub.


About the author


Sam Duell

sam@excelined.org

Before Sam joined ExcelinEd as the Associate Policy Director for Charter Schools, he was a special education teacher, a school and central office administrator, the Executive Director of School Choice at Oklahoma’s department of education and the Managing Director of OPSRC’s Education Collaborative. In every position, Sam worked creatively to meet student needs. He founded the Integrated Support Program at Fischer Middle School in San Jose, California to increase the number and percentage of students with learning disabilities who have access to the general education classroom. He was the first administrator of Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, the authorizer for online schools in Oklahoma. And he co-founded a statewide afterschool network called the Oklahoma Partnership for Expanded Learning to organize and advocate for expanded learning opportunities after school and during the summer. Sam’s current interests include charter schools and their role in a functional, thriving democracy.