NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charter Schools Spreading, Setting Higher Standards

November 14, 2001

Parents in many states have the option of founding their own public charter schools when they become frustrated and dissatisfied with the level of learning in their regular local public schools.

The schools can be operated by parents, teachers or community groups -- anyone who agrees to improve student achievement in exchange for fewer rules and regulations and promises to handle their budgets wisely. The movement is gaining in popularity -- in part because it offers competition to failing public schools.

  • Minnesota enacted the nation's first charter school law in 1992.
  • Nine years later, there are 2,100 charter schools in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico -- with school sizes ranging from just a few dozen students to thousands.
  • Only 86 charters -- 4 percent of all those opened throughout the nation -- have failed.
  • President Bush's education bill being negotiated in Congress calls for spending $200 million on 680 new charters and on 1,100 of the existing ones.

Political observers report that both Republican and Democrat politicians appear to be warming to the charter trend.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Charter Schools Pledge Success," USA Today, November 14, 2001.

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