Charter Blog by Title


Andrew Schantz


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The season of thanksgiving is upon us, so it’s the perfect time to be thankful for charter schools. Here are six reasons why we’re especially grateful for charter schools at the National Alliance:

Charter school leaders aim to hire talented, passionate, and qualified teachers who will boost student achievement and contribute to a thriving school culture. Charter schools also have the freedom to ensure that the teachers they hire are not only qualified, but produce results for students and families. Furthermore, the public charter school model gives teachers the flexibility to use their talents and abilities to design programs that work better for the students they serve, while being accountable for student achievement.

Interested in contributing your talents to the charter school community? Check out the charter school job board here.

In exchange for greater flexibility, charter schools are held to high standards and are accountable to the public. Charter schools introduce an unprecedented level of accountability in public education. They are uniquely accountable to the public because they sign contracts with a government-endorsed authorizer explaining how the schools will operate and the results they will achieve. If they don’t produce these results, their authorizer has the power to work to immediately fix these schools. Conversely, traditional public schools can fail for years – even generations – and never be closed down for bad performance.

Charter school students are excelling academically. Between 2010 and 2013, 15 of 16 independent studies found that students attending charter schools do better academically than their traditional school peers. For example, the 2013 Stanford CREDO national study found that overall, students in public charter schools are outperforming their traditional public school peers in reading, adding an average of seven additional days of learning per year.

Charter school students are also achieving remarkable results on a global level. Read our latest report to learn about how charter schools are preparing their students to be competitive with students across the world.

This year, 21 charter schools were among the 287 public schools throughout the nation named 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Read more about this award and the charter schools honored this year.

Despite public charter schools making up only 6% of public high schools nationwide, they have been a continuous presence on national ranking lists. See how charter schools stacked up on four major lists.

Want to see what the future of learning looks like? Look no further than public charter schools. At their inception, charter schools were designed to be laboratories for innovation in education, and that spirit is alive and well today. Charter schools are using their autonomy to push boundaries to better serve students, creating lessons that can be refined and shared throughout the public school system. Furthermore, the charter school model is an innovation in itself. Time and time again, charter schools are proving that a governance structure that provides autonomy from politics and bureaucracy can yield outstanding results for students.

Learn more about what next generation learning looks like in a recent report published by the National Alliance and Public Impact.

Charter schools are arming students with knowledge for success in college, career, and beyond. And that all starts with a high school diploma. YES Prep Public Schools in Houston and Memphis, Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies, and Aspire Public Schools in California are just a few examples of charter schools that pride themselves on 100 percent high school graduation. The success that students experience while attending a charter school also travels with them through college. Nationally, only 12 percent of low-income high school graduates go on to earn a four-year college degree. But charter schools like Boston-based Match Education, serving primarily low-income and minority students, has a college completion rate of nearly 4.5 times higher. Read more of these stories here.

A study by Mathematica Policy Research found that public charter schools in Florida and Chicago are helping more students get into college and earn higher incomes once they graduate. Read it here.

Charter schools are public schools, which means their doors are open to all students. According to federal law, they must accept all students, including students with disabilities and English Learners, regardless of previous academic performance. In fact, charter schools enroll more students of color and from low-income backgrounds than traditional public schools.

Kids dream big in small towns too. Watch our video about how charter schools are creating high-quality learning opportunities for students in rural America.

Learn more about how charter schools serve all students through our Truth About Charters campaign.


Nina Rees


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‘Brown’ at 60: Time to Fulfill the Promise

(Originally published by U.S. News & World Report)

Just as the nation marks the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which officially barred segregation in public schools, we have new evidence that schools are failing to give all students the best start in life.

Results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often referred to as “the nation’s report card,” show that the performance of high school seniors in reading and math has stagnated in recent years. Only 37 percent of seniors are reading at grade level and only 26 percent of seniors are doing math at grade level. Even worse, the achievement gap between white and black students in reading has widened since 1992. In math, there’s been no improvement.

The stark reality is that despite two decades of education reform efforts, high school students on the whole aren’t registering better results. The effects are potentially catastrophic…read more here.

Katherine Bathgate


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194 Children. 194 Dreams.

Far too many students don’t have the educational opportunities they deserve, but one school in Harlem, New York is changing that. Success Academy Harlem 4 is one of the top-performing schools in the entire state, but instead of supporting their remarkable success, Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to shut down their school. Who will be hurt by his decision? These kids:

Harlem 4 Ad NYT

Add your voice to the thousands of parents and families trying to keep this NYC school open. Sign their petition here. Katherine Bathgate is the Senior Manager for Communications and Marketing at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 


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20 Years of Innovation towards Eliminating the Achievement Gap

During National Charter Schools Week, we celebrate achievements in the school house and the state house. These achievements could not have been possible without the commitment of teachers, leaders, parents and advocates from all parts of the country. We asked some of these individuals to tell us why they are a part of the charter schools movement. While college and graduate student loan debt and interest rates have made headlines recently (and with good reason), we should not forget that many of the children in this country do not reach college because of the shortcomings of our national public education system. Indeed, the most important civil rights issue challenging our country today is the equal right to and the availability of a high quality k-12 education for all children, regardless of their ethnic background or socio-economic status. As we approach the end of the school year and reflect on public education in the United States, this week, we celebrate National Charter Schools Week, and the upcoming 20th anniversary of the first public  charter school (founded in Minnesota in 1992). The development of public charter schools in the early 1990s was rooted in a quest to, provide parents with a variety of public school options, free schools from bureaucracies and bring accountability to a long-ailing system of education. In my 14 years at Jumoke Academy, a public K-8 charter school in Hartford, CT, I have seen what can happen when committed teachers and school administrators confront the high needs of a low-income and minority population head on. Jumoke was founded in 1997 by my mother, Thelma Ellis Dickerson, a lifelong advocate for education reform and former president of the Hartford Board of Education, to eliminate the achievement gap for the city of Hartford. It was her fervent belief that, “if we provided a safe, supportive but rigorous learning environment for children, staffed with high-quality teachers who challenged students to learn at the highest levels, we could change the face of public education in the city of Hartford for the absolute better.” My mother passed away this February, however Jumoke continues to represent all that she thought public school education can be for urban children. Our students consistently score on the list of top ten performing urban schools in Connecticut, according to an independent report by ConnCan. Our academic results clearly demonstrate that an urban school with a 100 percent minority population can not only close the achievement gap, it can also equal and often outperform more affluent communities. Jumoke is just one of the more than 5,000 public charter schools seeking to change the outcomes of the over two million students they serve across the country. In low-income, urban communities, public charter schools are targeting those most in need and working to raise the bar on public education through innovation, choice and parental empowerment. In Detroit, the high school graduation rate for charter schools was 80 percent, compared to 60 percent from traditional public schools. In Los Angeles, charter schools outperformed the Los Angeles Unified School District traditional public schools, on average, across all grade levels on the Academic Performance Index in the 2010-11 school year. In Washington, D.C., charter schools have a 21 percent higher graduation rate than Washington DC Public Schools. Studies out of charter-rich states like Arizona and California show that public charter schools are producing innovations that are being adopted by traditional schools districts. And in some districts, increased student achievement in neighboring traditional public schools suggests charter competition is raising the bar for all schools. Despite the success that the charter movement has seen, there is still considerable inequity between charter and traditional public schools when it comes to per student state and federal appropriations. Charters are, on average, receiving less money per-pupil than the corresponding public schools in their areas. Additionally, there are still nine states that lack charter school laws, leaving families in those states without adequate public education alternatives for their children. Let us seize National Charter School Week as an opportunity to celebrate the efforts of lifelong civil rights and education reform advocates like my mother, reflect on the successes and lessons learned from the charter school movement, expose the still present, still painful, inequalities in our public education system, and continue to strive for something better for America’s children. NCSW Blog Michael Sharpe           Author: Michael Sharpe is the Chief Executive Officer of Jumoke Academy in Hartford, CT. He is the president of the Connecticut Charter School Association, board member of the National Charter School Leadership Council, and founding member of the Legacy Project and Family Urban Schools of Excellence, (F.U.S.E).
Nora Kern


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21 Public Charter Schools Recognized as 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, as described by the U.S. Department of Education, “recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.” This year, the 21 charter schools were among the 287 public schools throughout the nation named 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Secretary of Education.

In order to be eligible for the National Blue Ribbon award, the school must have made Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) or Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for three consecutive years, including the year the school is nominated. Additionally, one-third of all the nominated schools in a state must serve at least 40 percent of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This year there are nine more public charter schools that earned the National Blue Ribbon School—up from twelve charter school award winners in 2013. Congratulations to the 2014 National Blue Ribbon public charter schools for their outstanding educational programs and accomplishments!

Charter School State
Mesquite Elementary School Arizona
Reid Traditional Schools’ Valley Academy Arizona
Bullis Purissima Charter School California
KIPP Summit Academy California
Academy of Dover Charter School Delaware
Crossroad Academy Florida
Doral Performing Arts & Entertainment Academy Florida
Mater Gardens Academy Florida
Terrace Community Middle School Florida
Elite Scholars Academy Charter School Georgia
Lake Oconee Academy Georgia
Signature School Indiana
Pace Charter School of Hamilton New Jersey
Genesee Community Charter School New York
South Bronx Classical Charter School New York
Raleigh Charter High School North Carolina
Columbus Preparatory Academy Ohio
Franklin Towne Charter High School Pennsylvania
Houston Academy for International Studies Texas
KIPP Houston High School Texas
KIPP Sharp College Prep Texas

Nora Kern is senior manager of research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.


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30 Days of Grad: 21st Century Charter School

Joseph Harris stood in his cap and gown Saturday afternoon and hugged his father as tears streamed down both of their cheeks.

“I’m going to the Army June 23,” Harris said. “I’m not going to have much time with anyone before then.”

Harris was among the 30 graduates of 21st Century Charter School in Gary. His father, Jean Harris, said the teen held down two jobs while earning his diploma. “It was a rough journey,” mother Joyce Harris said. “We stayed on him to make sure he got his education.”

Many graduates spoke of 21st Century Charter School as a family. “Today is a day of family because the way I see it, my class is family,” graduate Anthony Benion said. “We fought… but we love each other. [Our relationships] are forever and I’m happy to call each of them my family.”

This post was adapted from an article by The Times. Read more about Century Charter School in the article here.

Lauren Roberge

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30 Days of Grad: Angel Onofre

Angel Onofre was ready to ditch school. Depression and a conversation with his parents, who live in Mexico, left him feeling unmotivated to continue with school. But when he went in to tell the principal of El Colegio Charter School that he was dropping out, just one semester short of graduation, she wouldn’t allow him to do it.

On June 5, he and 15 other seniors received their diplomas, after years of struggling in other schools. Norma Garces, the principal, said many of her students, including the seniors, have parents who were deported, or fear deportation for their relatives. They suffer from depression. They have failed in a normal school setting. But her school offers them a second chance.

El Colegio Charter School is a small public high school in Minneapolis that has been serving students in English and Spanish since 2000. They pride themselves on offering learning experiences that integrate teaching with Latino culture and traditions. El Colegio provides a supportive and personalized environment for students so they are individually supported to meet the challenges of high school and beyond.

This post was adapted from an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Read more about El Colegio and Angel’s story in the article here.

Angel Onofre - El Colegio

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30 Days of Grad: ASU Preparatory Academy

ASU Preparatory Academy is celebrating its first class of graduates this year. The school, which is operated by Arizona State University, opened a campus in downtown Phoenix as a middle school in 2008 and has since expanded to include grades K-12.

The school’s first graduating class of 131 students received their diplomas on May 28, and earned a total of $2 million in college scholarships. When asked about what it meant to be a part of the first class of graduates, the school’s valedictorian Dwayne Martin said that he is “proud and humbled.” “I hope that I can be an example for all of the classes to come,” he said.

All of the graduates will either go to college or into military service. In all, 76 percent of the graduates were accepted to four-year institutions.

Read more about these graduates and their alma mater in this AZCentral article that further profiles their tremendous successes.

ASU Preparatory Academy

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30 Days of Grad: Azianay Davis

Azianay Davis For today’s 30 Days of Grad post, we sat down with Azianay Davis, a graduate of Rauner College Prep—a campus of the high-performing Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago—to learn about her school experience and her plans for the future.

National Alliance: What makes Rauner College Prep special? Why are you proud to call it your school?

Azianay: Rauner is equipped with an amazing and dedicated team of college counselors whose goal is to make sure 100% of seniors are accepted to, and graduate from, college. Some days they work more than ten hours, staying after school to assist students with time-consuming scholarship and college applications. The small team works with over 100 seniors to help them reach their goals for college and beyond. I am proud to be a Rauner student because the staff is so devoted and passionate.

National Alliance: How has your school helped you achieve your goals?

Azianay: Rauner and its college team helped me get into my dream college, the University of Chicago, on a full-ride scholarship. I worked with my counselor, Ms. Turner, to hone my essays and submit all required materials. My other counselor, Mrs. Pinkston, also helped me with my application to become a Questbridge Scholar, and in the fall I will be a member of University of Chicago’s Questbridge branch.

National Alliance: Do you have an example of how a teacher helped you overcome a particular challenge?

Azianay: The 2014-2015 school year was the first year that Rauner offered a public speaking class. My speech teacher, Mr. Rotkvich, has pushed me all year to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there in front of the class. His support has made me more confident inside and outside of class, and today I find myself more willing and excited to have my voice heard.

National Alliance: What are your plans for the future?

Azianay: I will attend the University of Chicago and plan on double majoring in English and Sociology.

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30 Days of Grad: Carlos Rosario Charter School

Over the past 40 plus years, the Carlos Rosario School in Washington, D.C. has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of immigrants by investing in and supporting their journey to achieve the American Dream. The school combines award-winning education, life skills programs, and support services to create a holistic experience. Learn about three of their graduates this year below:


Victor is a current culinary arts career training academy student planning to graduate next month. Victor, originally from El Salvador, started at the school in 2012 with a basic level of English. He has since received his food handler’s license, has taken five semesters of English, and will graduate from the school’s culinary arts program. Victor was recently promoted to head chef at Commissary restaurant in D.C. where he is putting his skills to work every day in the kitchen.


Gloria is from El Salvador and arrived to Washington, D.C. in 1991. She first started school in 1992 at Carlos Rosario, known then as Gordon School. When her six-year-old daughter arrived from El Salvador, Gloria was faced with many responsibilities and she couldn’t attend school. In 2003 she returned to Carlos Rosario and studied Workplace Computers and she earned her citizenship in 2006, thanks in part to assistance she received through the school’s citizenship program. This past fall Gloria completed our highest level of English and will be crossing the stage with her classmates at graduation.


Nicodeme came to the U.S. from Cameroon to reunite with his mother and siblings, and pursue his dreams. Since primary school, he decided that he would become a doctor and achieve the highest level of education. “My main aim is to become a great and respected person. I want to walk around and have people say ‘that’s Nicodeme,’” he says. With his goals in mind, he started taking English and GED classes at the Carlos Rosario School. In a little over two years, he finished from the school’s highest ESL level. He will be graduating this spring from the GED program with his high school diploma equivalent. With the GED under his belt, he hopes to start a pre-med program at a local university, and become a doctor by the age of 27.

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