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Charter Schools

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Public charter schools provide parents with choices by untethering their child’s school from their home address. Charter schools also provide dynamic mechanisms for school innovation and evolution, as new schools rethink instructional delivery and seek to meet students’ needs and families’ preferences. Nationally, approximately 6,700 charter schools serve nearly 3 million children — or 6 percent of all U.S. public school students. In urban areas such as Washington, D.C., Newark, New Orleans, Denver, Miami, and Los Angeles, charters serve an even larger share of students. Research shows that many urban charter schools significantly outperform similar district-run schools, yet a significant number of charter schools underperform compared to traditional district schools. As the charter school sector grows, new opportunities and challenges emerge.

In our work, Bellwether seeks to foster the development of high-performing and continuously improving schools, including charter schools. This work takes many forms and bridges our strategy and policy work.

As consultants, we help education entrepreneurs and charter network leaders develop and implement plans to improve and grow, and advise city-based nonprofits that support school operators or advocate on behalf of the charter sector. As policy analysts, we research state and federal statutes and regulations to help create policy environments that foster the creation of high-quality charter schools and the closure of low-performing ones. And we provide analyses and insights to guide foundations that invest in the sector. Our on-the-ground work influences our policy work, making it stronger and more responsive to realities in the field.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

Publications

November 15, 2017
School buses might not grab headlines, but they are a critical part of American K-12 education, providing millions of kids with a safe way to get to...
May 2, 2017
Jennifer O'Neal Schiess, Phillip Burgoyne-Allen
Every day, nearly 25 million students ride a big yellow bus to school. These iconic vehicles are so entrenched in American school culture that their...
March 19, 2017
C-SPAN - Ashley LiBetti Mitchel talked about her Education Next article in the Winter 2017 issue on pre-K programs at charter schools in the U.S.   
January 23, 2017
Bonnie O'Keefe, Kaitlin Pennington, Sara Mead
President Donald Trump’s nomination of philanthropist and education advocate Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education thrust Michigan education into...
December 8, 2016
Kelly Robson, Juliet Squire
Currently, about 6,000 Idaho students are on waitlists for charter schools. And the state is expected to add nearly 22,000 new prek-12 students by...

Blog Posts

January 24, 2017
Bonnie O'Keefe and Kaitlin Pennington
When President Donald Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to serve as his Secretary of Education, she was not well known on a national scale: her...
November 15, 2016
Ashley LiBetti Mitchel
Over the past 20 years, both charter schools and prekindergarten have taken on increasingly prominent roles in the schooling of America’s...
April 12, 2016
Hailly Korman
Most of the news you’ve heard about charter schools and discipline has been bad. Very bad. But one school in New Orleans is moving in a...