This is National Charter Schools Week and there is good news. Charter schools are in high demand, they serve students well and they empower teachers and parents to be more actively involved in education.
A few quick reminders about charter schools.
Charter schools are public schools operated independently of school boards. Every charter school must follow federal and state education laws, and they are overseen by bodies called “authorizers.” Ninety percent of authorizers are local school boards. For more information check out our 2-minute explanation.
Over three million students attend approximately 7,000 charter schools across the nation.
Forty-four states have adopted charter school laws along side Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. The first charter school law was passed in Minnesota in 1991, and the most recent charter law was passed in Puerto Rico in 2018.
Charter school demand remains high. According to some estimates, the demand for charter schools could outnumber currently enrolled students by almost three-to-one.
Charter schools are serving students well.
- Charter schools are overrepresented in the most recent rankings of the best public high schools by US News & World Report.
- A recent University of Arkansas study found that charter schools are a great investment of public dollars, where students are outperforming their traditional school peers in many places.
- And charter schools are serving more students with disabilities than ever before.
- Finally, recent research suggests that charter schools are good for traditional public-school students down the street. One study found that the closer a charter school is located to a traditional school, the better the outcomes for traditional public-school students in New York. Another study found similar effects in Massachusetts.
Charter schools are good for teachers and for parents. As part of our ongoing work to understand why people start charter schools, we surveyed dozens of charter founders. Here’s what we learned.
- Charter schools are often founded by parents who are attempting to address real challenges.
- Teachers care a lot about children, curriculum and educational philosophy.
- There are many, many different reasons to start charter schools.
Stay tuned and keep reading this week to find out more good news.
About the author
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.