User login

Join The Debate

Cast your vote and join the conversation.

Membership is free.

Get Started

Warning message

The subscription service is currently unavailable. Please try again later.

Charter Schools Are Overrated

The BriefGet Up To Speed

In the 25 years since Minnesota passed the first charter school law, these publically 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? 


Overview of charter schools in the United States.

Frequently asked questions about public charter schools. 

This e-book is a collection of articles published in Education Week over the past 25 years, marking some of the more notable moments in charter school history.

Arianna Prothero

Members of the NAACP Board of Directors ratified a resolution Saturday adopted by delegates at its 2016 107th National Convention calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion and for the strengthening of oversight in governance and practice.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

School reformers keep talking about charter schools as if they were the answer to public education’s problems, when there is a great deal of evidence that shows big problems with the charter sector.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Valerie Strauss

Are charter schools a “progressive” idea for education? Some progressive sources would have you think so, but other progressives have challenged that framing.

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Jeff Bryant

And while charter schools encompass a broad range of teaching styles—some follow the Montessori model or have an ethnocentric focus, for example—many in urban areas follow a "no excuses" philosophy.

Friday, March 18, 2016
Kristina Rizga

Charters were supposed to be laboratories for innovation. Instead, they are stunningly opaque.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Pedro Noguera

Charters are supplanting the union-dominated school board model. The big winners are students.

Monday, September 5, 2016
Chester E. Finn Jr., Bruno V. Manno and Brandon L. Wright

The charter movement is not only about opening charter schools—its goal has always been to fundamentally transform public education in this country.

Sunday, June 24, 2012
Deborah Kenny

The venerable civil-rights group may sell out poor black children.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Poverty—not race—is the real challenge for segregated schools, and that improving school quality is key to closing racial achievement gaps.

Monday, October 24, 2016
Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Richard V. Reeves, and Edward Rodrigue
Charter School Data

This report provides an updated and expanded view of charter school performance in the United States. 

Through our valued data sharing partnerships with state education agencies across the country, CREDO has a unique opportunity to look at the urban landscape of charter schooling. 

Enrollment statistics for public charter schools in the United States.