Charter Schools Continue to Grow; We Need More #SchoolChoice Now

Where did the time go? Unbelievably, National School Choice Week is coming to a close. It’s been a fun ride. Last night, a bunch of kids and parents showed up at the Independence Institute to watch Waiting for Superman in Spanish (more about that later). And today at Noon-1 PM local time (2-3 PM Eastern) you can join me and others for a #schoolchoice Tweet-Up.

To suit the occasion, think about the possibilities that more high-quality charter schools could offer students and families in Colorado. Yesterday the Center for Education Reform released the latest edition of the Survey of America’s Charter Schools. What a great place to go to get the “30,000-foot view” of charter trends across the nation.

Right there you can see that the number of charter schools nationwide continues to grow at a steady pace. The report points out not only that the growth is much greater and more robust in states with strong charter laws but also that the average charter waiting list continues to grow as well: by 44 from 2009 to 2012. There’s obviously a need both for more charters to meet student and parent demand and for states to strengthen their charter laws.

You have to look through the whole colorful, not-too-long report to pick out some more interesting tidbits, but a few other highlights caught my eye:

  • Charter schools as a whole server higher shares of low-income, minority, English Language Learner, and special needs student populations than other public schools — a trend similar but even more pronounced than here in Colorado
  • The percentage of charter schools using performance-based pay models has roughly doubled from 19 percent in 2009 to 37 percent in 2012
  • Much greater shares of the nation’s charter schools are using extended school day or extended school year strategies to help improve student learning

While we’re on the subject, check out this new report explaining how charter schools can effectively serve students in rural communities. The self-governing public school model is often seen as primarily an urban and suburban phenomenon, but Andy Smarick makes a great case that too many states are limiting themselves in this regard.

So what’s the hold-up? Waiting lists are growing. Let’s focus on breaking down the obstacles and building up more high-quality options for students seeking alternatives. As famous athletes and celebrities remind us, it’s time for School Choice Now!

Watch the video, and let me know what you think: Deion Sanders? Lisa Leslie? Jalen Rose? (To name a few)… Maybe some of them would join me in saying: “Go School Choice Week! And Go Broncos!!!”