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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

September 6, 2016
Washington Post -- What is the most important thing the next administration could do to change disparities in K-12 education?
July 19, 2016
Jennifer Schiess, Kelly Robson, Carolyn Chuong, Kaitlin Pennington
To ensure that the public education system delivers on its promise of great outcomes for all kids, we need a shared understanding of the facts to...
March 17, 2016
U.S. News & World Report -- Are charter schools public schools? At least one presidential candidate seems unsure: Sen. Bernie Sanders recently...
February 19, 2016
U.S. News & World Report -- With the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act , states now have the opportunity to replace their No Child...
November 24, 2015
U.S. News & World Report -- If (Hillary) Clinton is concerned about whether charter schools serve all students, she should propose creating...

Blog Posts

February 20, 2020
Kelly Robson and Jennifer Schiess
Across the country, many states and local districts are establishing autonomous school policies, which delegate to principals and school...
February 19, 2020
Andrew Rotherham
Thousands of low-income Black and Hispanic parents relying on charter schools are on thin political ice as the conservative-liberal...
February 19, 2020
Tanya Paperny and Brandon Lewis
This post is part of a series of interviews conducted for our Eight Cities project. Read all related posts here. Families with children in...