At a time when many students are not graduating from high school prepared for postsecondary education and work, two-thirds of the new jobs being created require advanced training or a college education. Business leaders believe that high-quality education is paramount to America's ability to compete globally. Charter schools, as independently operated public schools, strike many business leaders as one of the most effective ways to have a tangible effect on pre-K through secondary education.
Charter schools began in 1991 with the passing of the nation's first charter law in Minnesota. Charter schools are independent schools designed to provide tuition-free public education choices for parents and students, liberate teachers and administrators from red tape, and allow more innovation in the classroom. In exchange for this flexibility, charter schools accept high accountability, knowing that they can be closed if they fail to live up to their charter.
Today, charter schooling remains one of the nation's most promising efforts to produce more great public schools. Charter schooling has developed a variety of school models that serve the different interests and learning styles of students, and has provided an opportunity to generate successful strategies that can be incorporated and replicated within districts. Of course, many districts reacted warily to the introduction of competition in their areas, but charters have now become a fixture of the public school landscape. Some charter school innovationsùincluding extended learning time, small class and school size, and school-level teacher contractsùare finding their way into district settings. Other places have developed charter-district partnerships, co-locating charter schools with district schools or turning over failing district schools to charter organizations.
Forty states and the District of Columbia now have charter school laws, and about 4,300 schools serve 1.2 million studentsùabout 2% of the public school population. Families continue to clamor for more charter schools, lining up on long wait lists to enroll their children.
Download Corporations, Chambers and Charters: How Businesses Can Support High-Quality Charter Schools.