Learn About Public Charter Schools

The facts, history, and future of charter schools

What's a Charter School?

  • Charter schools are public schools

    Charter schools are unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Because they are public schools, they are open to all children, do not charge tuition, and do not have special entrance requirements.

  • Charter schools are high-performing schools

    Charter schools are some of the top-performing schools in the country. They are closing the achievement gap across the country. Charter schools are raising the bar of what’s possible - and what should be expected - in public education, and a higher percentage of charter students are accepted into a college or university than traditional district students.

Charters by the Numbers

There are more than 6,700 charter schools
educating nearly 3 million children.

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New York

New York enacted its charter school law in 1998. The state has 228 operating charter schools in school year 2016-2017.

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Massachusetts

Massachusetts enacted its charter school law in 1993. The state has 69 operating commonwealth charter schools in school year 2016-2017.

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Connecticut

Connecticut enacted its charter public school law in 1996. The state has 24 operating charter schools in school year 2016-2017.

Supported by Research

Sixteen academic studies have been published on charter school performance since 2010 - and 15 of 16 found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional public school peers. The most recent of those studies, by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes at Stanford University, found that charter schools do a better job than traditional district schools when it comes to teaching low-income students teaching low-income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English.

Despite serving just nine percent of test-takers, 29 percent of the city’s overall growth in students passing state exams since 2013 has come from charter schools, meaning a sector enrolling less than 10 percent of the city’s children is responsible for nearly one-third of its overall improvement.

FAMILIES FOR EXCELLENT SCHOOLS
THE PATH TO POSSIBLE

Students who are both low-income and black… or who are both Hispanic and English Language Learners, especially benefit from charter schools. Gains for these subpopulations amount to months of additional learning per year.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY
CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON EDUCATION OUTCOMES REPORT ON 41 REGIONS

City resident students who attend charter schools outperform students in city public schools in reading and have achieved at or above proficiency at a greater rate than city public school students between 2009 and 2012.

CONNECTICUT BOARD OF EDUCATION
BIENNIAL REPORT ON THE OPERATION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS

Public Charter Schools have Bipartisan Support

“Whether created by parents and teachers or community and civic leaders, charter schools serve as incubators of innovation in neighborhoods across our country…. Charter schools choose to locate in communities with few high-quality educational options, making them an important partner in widening the circle of opportunity for students who need it most.”

BARACK OBAMA
FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

“Public charter schools in Massachusetts are the single intervention of the past 20 years that has eliminated the achievement gap between white students and minority students, nothing else has come close.”

CHARLIE BAKER
GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS

“Every child deserves a high-quality education, and many children who struggle in underperforming schools flourish in high-quality charter schools. We need to invest in the expansion and development of high-quality charter schools so more children receive the education they deserve.”

DIANNE FEINSTEIN
US SENATOR, CALIFORNIA

“A quality education is the best way for Americans to climb the economic ladder... It also means creating more school choice so more families can have access to better schools.”

LAMAR ALEXANDAR
US SENATOR, TENNESSEE

"These are [charter] schools that we're engaging in the ideal of America… Every one of our kids is born with a particular genius, and our public schools should be places that nurture and cultivate and support that genius.”

CORY BOOKER
US SENATOR, NEW JERSEY

“Every parent wants to have their child get a great education — no matter what kind of school it is. Charter schools play a critical role in the City of New York.”

JOHN FLANAGAN
NY SENATE MAJORITY LEADER