In the 25 years since Minnesota passed the first charter school law, these publicly funded but privately operated schools have become a highly sought-after alternative to traditional public education, particularly for underserved students in urban areas. Between 2004 and 2014 alone, charter school enrollment increased from less than 1 million to 2.5 million students. Many charter schools boast of high test scores, strict academic expectations, and high graduation rates, and for some, their growth is evidence of their success. But have these schools lived up to their promise? Opponents argue that charters, which are subject to fewer regulations and less oversight, lack accountability, take much-needed resources from public schools, and pick and choose their student body. Are charter schools overrated?
For the motion
Professor, College of Education, Western Michigan University
Gary Miron is Professor in Evaluation, Measurement, and Research at Western Michigan University. He has extensive experience evaluating school... Read More
Julian Vasquez Heilig
Professor, Sacramento State & Founding Board Member, Network for Public Education
Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning teacher, researcher, and blogger. He is currently a professor of educational leadership and policy studies... Read More
Against the motion
Founder & CEO, The Center for Education Reform
Jeanne Allen has been on the front lines of education policy development and innovation for more than 30 years. She served for five years at the Department... Read More
Resident Fellow, AEI & Former Florida Commissioner of Education
Gerard Robinson is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he works on education policy issues including choice in public and... Read More
Where Do You Stand?
For The Motion
Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools can choose who attends through complex admissions processes and attrition stemming from strict performance and disciplinary standards.
Many charter schools do not answer to local school boards and are not subject to the same levels of accountability and transparency as traditional public schools.
Academic outcomes at charters have largely been found to be comparable to those of traditional public schools. While some do better, even more have been found to do worse.
Charter schools are exacerbating the re-segregation of our schools by race and income.
Against The Motion
Greater autonomy and flexibility gives charter schools the opportunity to innovate and demand more from both their teachers and students.
Charter schools are accountable to the communities they serve, and it is the demand for admission that determines their success or failure.
Charter schools don't discriminate by zip code. They promote equality by accepting all students that want to attend--when they're oversubscribed, through need-blind lotteries.
Studies have found that low-income students benefit from attending charter schools, and that overall, charter school students do better on standardized tests.