(Click on the image above to see a video on the truths about charter schools)
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 that perpetuate a number of myths.
Click on each truth below for the facts based on independent research to clarify these common misperceptions...
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.
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, often a lottery system, if there are more interested students than available seats.
A common myth persists that charter schools skim or cherry-pick the best students from traditional public schools.
The truth is that charter schools are public schools that serve all students that 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):
56% of charter school students qualify for free and reduced lunch
49% are Hispanic/Latino
30% are White
17% are English Language Learners (ELL)
12% are other (Asian, Indian, Pacific Islander, Filipino, multi-racial)
9% are African American
By law, charter schools cannot discriminate against students in admissions. If there are more students than seats available, a charter school will use a randomized system - like a lottery - to randomly select students.
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
17% more Latino students than do traditional schools.
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.
A recent report, Success for English Learners in Charter Schools, by the California Charter School Association found that charter schools are helping English Learner (EL) students do better.
Across California, EL students are performing better in charter schools than in traditional schools.
Statewide, charter schools may serve a somewhat smaller percentage of EL students. But in urban areas, independent charters serve as many or more than traditional schools:
Charters in San Jose serve more ELs than traditional schools (51% vs. 28%)
Charters in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego Unified serve about the same percentage of ELs as the local school district.
Every year the mumber of high-performing charter schools in California grows. And, on average, charters school students are learning more in a school year than their peers at traditional schools.
A national study by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that the students in urban charter schools gain more knowledge than students in urban traditional schools.
40 extra days of learning in math
28 extra days of learning in reading
By the time they graduate high school, many charter students are literally years ahead. According to 2014 reports by the California Charter School Association:
79% of Los Angeles charter high school students graduated compared to only 66% of traditional school students.
Los Angeles charter high school students completed all college prep coursework four times more often than their peers in LA Unified.
68% of Oakland charter students graduate versus only 53% of traditional school students.
Oakland charter schools graduate twice as many college-ready grads than traditional Oakland Unified district schools.
Parents believe that charter schools are a common sense solution to their children's education needs.
As of the 2015 school year, more than 158,000 student were on a charter school waitlist in California.
Evidence over the 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 enrollment and statewide polling data.
This growth in support increases as charter school performance continues to improve, especially for historically underserved students.