Truth About Charters

Summary

Share the Truth About Charters and help dispel common myths that persist about California's charter public schools.

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Overview

The public has never been more supportive of California's charter public schools based on growth in charter school enrollment, waiting list numbers, and polling data. Yet while charter schools enjoy strong support, there are vocal critics who perpetuate a number of myths. Through our series, the Truth About Charters, we hope to clarify common misperceptions by providing responses based on fact and independent research. Click on each Truth tab above to learn more.

Truth #1: Charter schools are public schools.

Charter schools are tuition free, public schools of choice open to any student. Choice is a powerful tool for parents seeking educational equity and equal access to quality education for their children.

Truth #2: Charter schools serve all students.

Charter schools are committed to serving a student body that reflects the local community. In fact, enrollment figures show that charter school students are just as diverse (racially and economically) as students who attend traditional district schools.

Truth #3: Charter schools serve English Language Learners.

A new report by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) finds that charter public schools are helping English Language ("EL") students do better in school.

Truth #4: Charter schools are excelling academically.

Charter schools are delivering on the promise of a great public education, especially in under-served communities. Research shows that charter school students are learning more each year, and graduating ready for college at higher rates.

Truth #5: Thousands of parents are waiting for more charter schools.

More and more families are demanding the charter school option as they learn that charter school students are doing better in school. Yet there is still an overwhelming unmet need for quality school options as over 158,000 students are on charter school waiting lists in California.

Additional resources are available in the Charter School Resource Library.

Truth #1: Charter schools are public schools.

Charter schools are public schools as defined in federal and state law. They must meet the same academic standards that all public schools

are required to meet. Charter schools are:

  • Tuition-free and open to all students.
  • Non-sectarian, and do not discriminate on any basis.
  • Publicly funded by local, state, and federal tax dollars based on enrollment, like other public schools.
  • Held accountable to state and federal academic standards.

As free public schools of choice, charter schools:

  • Do not engage in selective admissions policies.
  • Must accept all students, including students with disabilities and English Learners (ELs), regardless of previous academic performance.
  • Use a process to randomly select students, oftentimes a lottery system, if there are more interested students than available seats.

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Sample Facebook Post: Charters Schools Are Public Schools!
Did you know that charter public schools are tuition-free and open to all students? Yup, they are! Charters schools are publicly funded like any other public school, but are given the freedom to be more innovative while still being held accountable for improving student achievement. Support for charters is up according to a new PDK/Gallup poll revealing that support for charter schools has reached up to 70 percent in 2014 - up from 68 percent in 2013. Watch our #TruthAboutCharters video http://bit.ly/1iJQJKc .

Resources

Are you a member? Learn more about the Truth About Charters and how you can share your charter school story.

Truth #2: Charter schools serve all students.

A common myth persists that charter schools skim or cherry-pick the best students from traditional public schools. This is false! The truth is that charter schools are public schools that serve all students who want to attend. Charter schools are committed to serving a student body that reflects the local community.

According to the California Department of Education (CDE), during the 2014-15 school year:

  • 56% of of charter school students qualify for free and reduced lunch (FRL)
  • 49% are Hispanic/Latino
  • 30% are White
  • 17% are English Language Learners (ELL)
  • 12% are other (Asian, Indian, Pacific Islander, Filipino, Multi-racial subgroups)
  • 9% are African American

By law, charter schools cannot have admission processes that unlawfully discriminate against students. If there are more students who want to attend than there are seats available, a charter school will use a process to randomly select students, oftentimes a lottery system.

Across the state, English Language students, African American students and Latino students are enrolled in charter schools that are more likely than traditional schools to be among the top 10% of highest performing schools in the state. These high-performing charter schools serve:

  • 20% more English Language Learners,
  • 19% more African American Students, and
  • 17% more Latino students than do traditional schools.

See Figure 34 on page 55 of the 2014 Portrait of the Movement report.

Charter schools are also committed to serving students with exceptional needs. And because they are designed to have more flexibility than traditional public schools, charter schools are uniquely able to provide innovative, high-quality educational services to students with unique learning needs. Learn more.

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Sample Facebook Post: Charter Schools Serve ALL Students!
Some people think charter schools only select only the "best students." False! The truth is that charter schools are open to ALL students who want to attend. Charter schools are committed to serving a student body that reflects the local community. In fact, charter school students are just as diverse (racially and economically) as students who attend traditional district schools. By law, charter schools cannot have admission processes that unlawfully discriminate against students. If there are more students who want to attend than there are seats available, a charter school will use a process to randomly select students, oftentimes a lottery system. Watch our #TruthAboutCharters video http://bit.ly/1Qd6h3H.

Resources

Are you a member? Learn more about the Truth About Charters and how you can share your charter school story.

Truth #3: Charter schools serve English Language Learners

A recent report by CCSA found that charter schools are helping English Learner "EL" students do better in school. The report, Success for English Learners in Charter Schools, found that across California, EL students are performing better in charter schools than in traditional schools.

Charter schools statewide may serve a somewhat smaller percentage of EL students. But in urban areas, independent (autonomous) charter schools serve slightly more than, or about the same number of, EL students as traditional schools.

  • Charter schools in San Jose serve more ELs than traditional schools (51% vs. 28%).
  • In LAUSD, independent charter schools serve 1% more EL students than traditional schools.
  • Charter schools in Oakland and San Diego Unified School Districts serve about the same percentage of ELs as the local school district (within 3%).

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Sample Facebook Post: English Learner Students Perform Better in Charter Schools! Charter public schools are helping English Learner "EL" students do better in school. In fact, across California, EL students are performing better in charter public schools than in traditional schools. Watch our #TruthAboutCharters video http://bit.ly/1ibGNIU.

Resources

Are you a member? Learn more about the Truth About Charters and how you can share your charter school story.

Truth #4: Charter schools are excelling academically.

Every year the number of high-performing charter schools in California grows. And, on average, charter school students are learning more in a school year than their peers at traditional schools.

A national study recently released by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that students in urban charter schools gain more knowledge than students in urban traditional schools.

  • 40 extra days of earning in math
  • 28 extra days of learning in reading

The results are especially impressive in Los Angeles. CREDO found that L.A. charter students gain:

  • 79 extra days of learning in math
  • 50 extra days of learning in reading

By the time they graduate from high school, many charter school students are literally years ahead. According to 2014 reports by CCSA:

  • 79% of Los Angeles charter high school students graduated compared to only 66% of students at traditional schools.
  • Los Angeles charter high school students completed all college preparatory coursework 4 times more often then their peers at traditional Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools.
  • 68% of Oakland charter school students graduate versus only 53% of traditional school students.
  • Oakland charter schools graduate twice as many college-ready grads than traditional Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) schools.

Spread the Truth!

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Sample Facebook Post: Charters Are Excelling Academically!
Overall, charter schools are academic superstars! Every year the number of high-performing charter schools in California grows. And, on average, charter school students are learning more in a school year than their peers at traditional schools. A national study recently released by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that students in urban charter schools gain more knowledge than students in urban traditional schools: nearly 40 extra days of learning in math and 28 extra days of learning in reading. Watch our #TruthAboutCharters video http://bit.ly/1Qd6xzH.

Resources

Are you a member? Learn more about the Truth About Charters and how you can share your charter school story.

Truth #5: Thousands of parents are waiting for more charter schools.

Parents believe that charter schools are a common sense solution to their education needs. As of the 2014-2015 school year, more than 158,000 students were on a charter school waitlist in California.

When taking into account the number of students who were on more than one waitlist in California, that number jumped to approximately 278,000 students. Evidence over the past five years argues that the public has never been more supportive of charter public schools based on increasingly high parent demand, growth in charter school enrollment, and statewide polling data. This growth in support grows as charter school performance continues to improve, especially for historically underserved students.

We need the support of policymakers, charter school leaders, community members and other stakeholders to work together to address the needs of our growing community of charter school parents and students.

Spread the Truth!

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Sample Facebook Post: Thousands of Parents Are Waiting for More Charter Schools!
It's true! Around 158,000 parents in California alone are on waiting lists to enroll their children in a charter school. At the moment, there are simply not enough charter schools to meet the overwhelming demand of parents who have heard about all the wonderful things charter public schools do for students. We hope with this knowledge, incredible education leaders out there like you will start one to feed the need! Watch our #TruthAboutCharters video http://bit.ly/1OR3eh7.

Resources

Are you a member? Learn more about the Truth About Charters and how you can share your charter school story.

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