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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

August 11, 2020
When EightCities.org first launched in 2018, it documented the stories of leaders in school systems across the country working to drive rapid...
August 5, 2020
Bill Durbin, Sherri Geng, Jeff Schulz
With school opening just weeks away in many parts of the country, leaders need a detailed level of support — and a plan — to start the school year in...
July 14, 2020
Justin Trinidad, Hailly T.N. Korman
School choice was intended to expand options and equity, and it holds promise for many students with unique needs. But it is clear that no choice...
July 8, 2020
Rebecca Gifford Goldberg, Alison Fuller, Juliet Squire
Many charter schools and networks have demonstrated game-changing results for low-income students and students of color. And many are eager to extend...
June 16, 2020
Lina Bankert, Jeff Schulz, Rochelle Dalton, Alison Fuller, Liz McNamee
Postsecondary education dramatically increases the likelihood of employment and economic success. But many young people, especially those furthest...

Op-Eds

January 2, 2020
The need for school choice for native families is urgent, with the potential to revive and protect native cultural identity.
October 16, 2019
Lessons from a visit to Hollister Prep, a public charter school in  California which serves a racially and socioeconomically diverse student...
September 24, 2019
Crossroad Academy Charter School in Quincy, Florida, defies expectations. More than 90% of the school’s 530 students are Black or Hispanic, more than...

Blog Posts

August 6, 2021
Rebecca Daulton
As the Biden administration’s historic infusion of federal education funds are spent in states, coupled with a potential $1 trillion...
August 5, 2021
Juliet Squire
As the Biden administration’s historic infusion of federal education funds are spent in states, coupled with a potential $1 trillion...
August 4, 2021
Jeff Schulz
As the Biden administration’s historic infusion of federal education funds are spent in states, coupled with a potential $1 trillion...