Public charter schools have been serving K-12 students for more than 25 years and one of our biggest challenges remains to educate the public, lawmakers, and reporters on what charter schools actually are.
Charter schools are tuition-free schools that have open enrollment. Parents elect to enroll their child into a charter school because they believe it is the best local school for their child. Charter schools have more freedom and autonomy than district schools to create their own curriculum, hire their own staff, and create a specific school culture in exchange for an authorized charter that they are held accountable to by their school board, local authorizer and parents. Most importantly, all charter schools are public schools. There is no such thing as a private charter school.
Furthermore, numerous studies from CREDO at Stanford University have demonstrated that charter school students—especially students of color—often outperform their district school peers academically. Urban charter schools significantly outperform their district school peers in reading and math. And there are so many different CREDO studies (amongst others) that demonstrate similar outcomes!
With the above basic framework in mind, check out my top 10 recommended reads to learn more about charter schools:
History of Education Reform
“Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools” by Steven Brill
Defining Public Charter Schools
What is a Charter School?
Charter School FAQ
Nationwide Charter School Data Dashboard
Obstacles Facing the Movement
The Washington Examiner: Charter School Facilities are Still Overlooked and Underfunded
The 74: Charter Schools Must Not Be a Scapegoat for Traditional Districts’ Financial Distress
2020 Democratic Candidates and Charter Schools
The Wall Street Journal: Democrats, Support Charter Schools
CNN: Bernie Sanders will Call for Ban on For-Profit Charter Schools
Pushback on Charter Myths
Education Next: Writing Under the Influence
The Washington Post: There’s Nothing Progressive About Strangling Charter Schools
Whether you are a parent, teacher, writer, or policymaker, it is a civic duty to advocate for kids who do not have access to quality local schools. Their futures depend on us. Charter schools are an incredible solution to the opportunity gap that exists across America. And who wouldn’t want to be a part of closing that?
Shaelyn Macedonio is the senior manager of media relations at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.