What are Public Charter Schools?

Public charter schools are public schools. Public charter schools are granted flexibility from certain state laws in exchange for greater accountability in improving student achievement. As public schools, they are tuition-free, funded by public dollars, and are held to similar – yet more rigorous – academic, managerial, and fiscal standards as other public schools. An independent board that promotes a strong collaboration between parents, teachers, students, and their communities governs public charter schools. Such collaboration will create an environment where parents and the community can be more involved, and teachers have more autonomy to meet the needs of their students. Thus, public charter school students are given the necessary structure and rich learning environment they need to be successful. 

Public charter schools are open to any student who wants to attend.  They give parents the opportunity to choose a school based on their child’s needs. They are open enrollment and tuition free. Public charter schools are started by groups of committed parents, teachers, and community members who apply to an authorizer for permission to open a public charter school.

Public charter schools are answering parents’ increasing demand for high-quality public schools.

  • 42 states and the District of Columbia have enacted public charter school laws.  There are currently over 6,000 public charter schools open
  • 2.57 million students in the United States attend public charter schools.  That’s 6.3% of all public school students.  There are currently 610,000 students on waitlists to attend public charter schools.
  • Public charter schools have particular success with low-income and minority students. One of the most consistent research findings is that public charter schools that serve students of color or students from low-income families tend to outperform district schools serving similar populations.  These high performers are setting important examples about what public schools can achieve.
  • Three national studies and ten studies from major regions across the country since 2010 found positive academic performance results for students in public charter schools compared to their traditional public school peers.