This week in school choice: A quarter-century of charter schools

The nation’s first law allowing charter schools is now 25 years old. Charters have since become one of the largest-fastest-growing, and most bipartisan school choice policies.

Chester Finn adds some perspective.

Since 1991, forty-three states and the District of Columbia have allowed for the existence and operation of these independent public schools of choice. Today, some 6,700 of them serve nearly three million students, almost 6 percent of U.S. public school enrollment. They are the fastest-growing school choice option in the country and already educate more than half as many children as attend private schools, which have been around for ages. They are, in fact, as close to a “disruptive innovation” as American K–12 education has ever seen. They have created a new market and an alternative delivery system that affords long-neglected families access to potentially higher-quality schools than they find within the traditional district structure.

Yet for all its promise, impressive growth, and visibility in the public square, the charter movement has ample room to improve.

Finn goes on to offer some suggestions for improvement, some of which are topics we’ve discussed on this blog. This week, some of the country’s leading charter school advocates grappled with ways to become more innovative and better serve all students.

Sadly, charters in many places are still fighting for the right to exist or grow.


A bid to bring tax credit scholarships to New York faltered for this year, as lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached a budget deal that excluded the plan but would provide private schools with state money they say they were owed anyway.

Alabama‘s new private school choice program is a “game changer” for students, but it faces the usual scrutiny.

School vouchers remain in legal limbo in North Carolina, but backers want to keep the program going next year while the state Supreme Court weighs a lawsuit challenging the program.

Louisiana‘s voucher program is a sometimes-overlooked part of the school choice mix in New Orleans.

Can school choice help expand access to preschool?

Quote of the Week

For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present.  Perhaps we see that now.  Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career.

Perhaps it causes us to examine what we’re doing to cause some of our children to hate.

President Barack Obama, giving his eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pickney in Charleston, SC.

We’re at a loss for witticisms after watching that powerful speech. Send news, tips, links and story ideas to tpillow[at]sufs[dot]org, and have a great week.