Public Charter School Movement Celebrates 20 Years Of Public Education Innovation, Student Achievement, and Parental Choice

Sep 06, 2012, 13:00 ET from National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Highlights Two Decades of Success

WASHINGTON, Sept.6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Twenty years ago tomorrow, the first public charter school opened, forging the path for the most innovative public education reform movement in a century.  City Academy High School in St Paul, MN was proposed by a local Citizens League and authorized by bi-partisan legislation endorsed by a Democratic-majority legislature and a Republican governor.


Today, demand for public charter schools is at an all time high. More than 2,000,000 students in 41 states and D.C. now attend a charter school, and more than 610,000 more are on waiting lists. The results of the new Phi Delta Kappa (PDK)/Gallup poll show the public nationwide favors public charter schools by a two to one margin.

Public charter schools are tuition-free public schools allowed the freedom to be more innovative, while being held accountable for improved student achievement. These open enrollment public schools are demonstrating that the achievement gap can be closed and that every child, regardless of where they live or their socio-economic status, can achieve at high academic levels.  While the nation's more than 5,600 charter schools represent only five percent of the nation's public schools, they are disproportionally represented on US News & World Report's Best High Schools list (17%), Washington Post's High School Challenge Index list (25%), and Newsweek's Transformative High Schools list (60%).

"The cornerstone of the public charter school movement is to bring effective innovation into the teaching and learning process, to provide parents choices that better suit their children's personal needs, and to allow educators the autonomy they deserve to best educate their students," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement.

"Twenty years later, and after more than 200 studies on charter schools, we've learned that eliminating unnecessary restrictions on how we teach, and breaking down the barriers of who can help children learn, has enhanced how children can achieve, learn, and develop." 

In the last two years, nearly 41 state legislatures strengthened their charter school laws by lifting caps restricting charter growth, providing more equitable funding and facilities support, and enacting new authorizing and accountability measures. Maine enacted its first charter school law.

In addition, the public charter school movement has been embraced by a wide swath of Americans, including Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama; business leaders Bill Gates and Craig Barrett; celebrities Bill Cosby, John Legend, and Andre Agassi; and organizations including the National Council of La Raza and the United Negro College Fund.

In the coming decade, leaders of the public charter school movement will concentrate their efforts on making the charter sector the source of innovative solutions to public education's most pressing challenges and providing more high-performing schools to families and students across the nation.


The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at

NAPCS has been at the forefront of analyzing and sharing important charter school data and effective educational practices.  Its Public Charter School Dashboard provides the most comprehensive set of publicly available public school data, including performance, enrollment, demographic, and graduation rates for districts and states nationwide. 

Its newest report, Fulfilling the Compact, highlights the trends driven by charter schools including integrating and utilizing technology in effective ways; transforming how teachers and school leaders are recruited, supported, and retained; and reinventing how schools are operated and educational opportunities are provided.

SOURCE National Alliance for Public Charter Schools