Charter schools—independently operated public schools of choice, first authorized by a 1991 Minnesota law—have been in operation only since 1992. But they are slowly changing the landscape of public education.
Today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws permitting parents, educators, and others to establish such schools. All told, nearly 2,400 charter schools nationwide are serving almost 580,000 students. That’s a tiny fraction of the more than 42 million pre-K-12 students enrolled in public schools in the United States. But the impact of these newcomers may far exceed their scale, by introducing more choice and competition into the public school environment.
This three-part series, supported with a grant from the Ford Foundation, examines how teachers, school districts, and the private sector have been “Changed by Charters.” This first installment looks at some ways in which teachers are involved in charters. Two more installments will appear in April and May.
A version of this article appeared in the March 27, 2002 edition of Education Week as About This Series