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Beyond City Limits: Expanding Public Charter Schools in Rural America

David Stuit and Sy Doan

In only twenty years, the charter sector has grown from a single charter school in St. Paul, Minnesota to approximately 5,600 public charter schools serving more than 2 million students in nearly every state in the nation. Moreover, hundreds of thousands more are waiting for seats in charter schools to become available. The demand for public charter schools is arguably higher than it has ever been. And, while many of our finest public charter schools are located in cities, parental demand for public charter schools is by no means limited to urban centers. In fact, nearly half of all charter schools are found outside city limits. Notably, rural charter schools are the fastest growing segment of the sector, with nearly 20 percent of all charter schools housed in rural areas. With that in mind, we offer Beyond City Limits: Expanding Public Charter Schools in Rural America, the latest publication from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Written by David Stuit, PhD, and Sy Doan of Basis Policy Research, this issue brief explores how public charter schools can meet the educational needs of rural communities. We at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools understand that educating students in rural communities presents unique challenges. However, we believe that the 25 percent of public school students that live in rural areas deserve quality public school options. The flexibility afforded to charter schools can assist rural communities as they navigate complex funding, human capital and transportation obstacles. This issue brief offers practical solutions for growing the number of high quality public schools for students in rural communities. We hope this report will be helpful in your work.