Charter Schools Anniversary Heralds Progress


Charter schools are here to stay. September 8th marked the 25th anniversary of the charter schools movement that began in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is a good time to take notice of the progress these schools have made in our education system.

Recently I expressed my admiration for one of the leaders of the charter school movement, Eva Moskowitz of Harlem, New York City (School Choice is Making a Difference). Today we’ll see how school choice through charter schools is having a national impact.

David Osborne is the author of a new book called Reinventing America’s Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System. In an excerpt from his book he describes some of the significant achievements of the charter schools:

  • After four years in a charter, urban students learn about 50% more a year than demographically similar students in traditional public schools. (Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes)
  • The American cities that have most improved their schools are those that have embraced charters wholeheartedly.


Here are some examples of the cities that have embraced charter schools:

New Orleans

  • New Orleans, which will be 100% charter schools next year, is America’s fastest improving city in education.
  • New Orleans schools have doubled or tripled their effectiveness in the last decade since turning to charter schools.
  • More than 80% of their students are African-American and an equal percentage qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches.
  • Despite these numbers, New Orleans became the first high-poverty city to outperform its overall state in 2015 and 2016.


Washington D. C.

  • 20 years after introducing charter schools, 46% of public-school students attend charter schools.
  • Charter schools outperform traditional public schools despite receiving $6,000 to $7,000 less per pupil annually.



  • 10 years after introducing charter schools, 42% of students attend charters or innovation schools.
  • In those 10 years Denver schools have gone from the slowest academic growth of Colorado’s 20 largest districts to its fastest.
  • Denver schools now approach the state average on standardized tests despite the fact that 70% qualify for subsidized lunches.


In other states like New Jersey, Indiana, Massachusetts and Tennessee, charter schools are making a big impact. Many states are noticing the success of Louisiana and introducing charter schools, especially in urban school districts.

Teachers’ unions hate all this because most charter schools are not unionized. But Osborne has an appropriate response to them: “If someone discovered a vaccine to cure cancer, would anyone limit its use because hospitals and drug companies found it threatening?”

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