Four Things You Need To Know About Charter Schools in 2024

Welcome to National Charter Schools Week!

As we begin our celebration of the hard work that charters and charter management systems like Concept Schools do for our students, it’s important to have a full grasp on how they benefit the sector of education. Here are four things about charters schools you need to know. 

Charter schools are public, free, and open to all students

One of the biggest misconceptions about charter schools is they A) require tuition and B) have selective enrollment like private schools. 

Neither of these things are true. 

Charter schools are an important part of the American education landscape, serving nearly 4 million students—two-thirds of whom are from low-income, Black or Latino communities. The mission of charters has been centered around every single student having access to a high-quality, tuition-free education.  

Charter schools are the only part of public education that is steadily growing

More than ever before, families are reconsidering their options for what kind of education they want for their children. 

Over the last four school years (2019-20 to 2022-23), charter schools gained more than 300,000 new students, an increase of 9%. Meanwhile, district public schools lost 1.5 million students at the beginning of the pandemic and enrollment has not rebounded over the past three years, creating a net loss of 3.5%. 

Charters offer flexibility in their curriculum that other institutions are too limited to provide their students. A one-size-fits-all education historically has failed young minds who have particular needs on a classroom-to-classroom basis. 

Charter schools are student-centered and can serve the unique needs of each of their communities in ways that district public schools cannot

In exchange for local autonomy regarding students’ education and wrap-around services, charter schools must meet or exceed the goals laid out in their charter such as student proficiency and community service.

At Concept Schools, we have developed our Concept Young Scholars Program that emphasizes the importance of our students being civically engaged in their communities. Incentivizing personal growth outside of the classroom is an important component of our vision for setting young people up for success once they graduate from high school. 

The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is the only source of federal funding for start-up, replication, and facilities for public charter schools

Even as we see the rising interest of people sending their children to charter schools, there has been political pushback to stop funding from going to these institutions. 

Charters across the country are calling on congressional leadership to increase funding and flexibility to support access to facilities and support educators, including educators of color, who are inspired to open new schools.

These are two bills you need to know about:

1) The bipartisan Equitable Access to School Facilities Act (S. 1480) will ensure access to public property and provide federal grants to states for charter school facilities. The grants, available from the CSP, can be used by charter schools to acquire and renovate existing facilities, cover ongoing facilities costs, or create a reserve fund for future acquisition, renovation, or maintenance.

2) The Empower Charter School Educators to Lead Act (H.R. 6418 and S. 3072) would allow state grantees to allocate CSP grant funding for pre-planning grants for school leaders and educators looking to start high-quality public charter schools. 

This data was collected by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.