NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charter Schools Growing

February 1, 1996

Charter schools, which allow a measure of local control of public schools, have proved popular in a number of states.

  • In Massachusetts, eight charter schools received a total of 1,316 applicants for 882 seats.
  • In Michigan, University Public School received 5,223 applications for 330 spots.
  • According to a Minnesota survey, parents believe charter schools have advantages in the areas of curriculum, teachers, staffing, size and length of classes, overall environment and school resources.
  • Even teachers have indicated an interest in charter schools, with the Boston Renaissance Charter School receiving 1,000 teaching applicants for only 40 spots.

Charter-driven reform has created a great degree of diversity. For example,

  • City Academy in Minnesota, the nation's first charter school, targets students with a history of poor academics and behavioral problems.
  • Jingletown, in California, emphasizes bilingual education.
  • A rural Minnesota school facing closure became a charter school and was able to survive with community and business support.

Studies show that two-thirds of the charter schools target a cross-section of students, and half specifically target at-risk children. In Michigan, a survey of 10 charter schools in November 1994 found that about 49 percent of the students were minorities, while other public schools had only 23 percent minority enrollment.

State legislation can encourage or discourage charter schools. In fact, states having strong charter legislation are home to 92.7 percent of the charter schools.

Source: Jeanne Allen, "Charter Schools Could Help Revitalize Ohio's Public Schools," Perspective on Current Issues, Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, 131 N. Ludlow Street, Suite 308, Dayton, OH 45402, (513) 224-8352.

 

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