Charter schools' emphasis on accountability, flexibility and local control make them attractive educational alternatives for many families.
Accountability for Results. Charter schools are exempt from many State and local statutory and regulatory requirements to enhance parent and student choices among public schools and give more students the opportunity to learn to challenge standards. They receive increased flexibility in exchange for improved student achievement. Charter schools risk closure if they do not show results.
Flexibility and Local Control. In states that allow them, parents, teachers and other members of the local community are mobilized to work together in new ways to achieve success. Compared to regular public schools, they often have greater control of their budgets, greater discretion over hiring and staffing decisions, and greater opportunity to create innovative programs.
More Options for Parents. Charter schools are public schools and open to all students and their parents who seek a school that better meets their children's academic needs. Charter schools are schools parents choose to send their children.
Currently, about 4,000 charter schools educate more than a million students in 40 states and Washington, D.C. The No Child Left Behind Act recognizes their value and vitality. This innovative law gives parents new information and options to help them make the best possible choice for their children.
Information. Under No Child Left Behind, school "report cards" are made available to parents and all taxpayers. Data is disaggregated to show overall student achievement as well as the performance of student groups once left behind.
Choice. Parents with children in Title I schools marked "in need of improvement" for two consecutive years have the option to transfer to another public school within the district, including a public charter school. President Bush's proposed $100 million America's Opportunity Scholarships for Kids program would permit parents of students in schools that have not made Adequate Yearly Progress for six or more years to transfer them to a private school of their choice.
Results. Schools that repeatedly underperform must develop an improvement plan with parents' and teachers' input.
Studies show charter schools' effectiveness:
- Students at charter schools that request and choose their own curriculum score higher in reading than students in other public schools (National Center for Education Statistics)
- Charter schools are especially likely to raise the achievement levels of low-income and Hispanic students (Caroline Hoxby, Harvard University)
President Bush and Secretary Margaret Spellings are committed to seeing charter schools opened in every state. Although more than 2,000 new schools opened between 2000 and 2006, long waiting lists and admission lotteries testify to their growing need.
- Since taking office, President Bush has invested more than $1.4 billion on the Charter Schools Program and more than $262 million on charter school facilities to reduce waiting lists.
- The President's 2008 budget provides $214.8 million to continue the Charter School Program, including $200 million to help create new charter schools and an additional $14.8 million in matching funds to States that offer per-pupil financial assistance to charter schools to obtain facilities.
- The U.S. Department of Education has launched an ongoing evaluation of charter schools, the most rigorous ever undertaken.