Issue Brief and Resources
NEW: Charter School Resource Center
Uniformity is not a word that would be used to characterize public education in the United States, and it would be even less true of the charter school movement. Since its origin in the early 1990s, charters exist by virtue of state law in 80 percent or 40 of the 50 states. No two state charter laws are alike, and the range of their success and configuration is disparate.
The current, generally-agreed-upon definition of a charter school is a public school that is nonsectarian and operates under a contract or charter that governs its operation. Charter schools can be viewed as a model for education reform, as an alternative or choice, or as an escape from a difficult local situation. Quite often they are undertaken as an experiment with education innovation and/or a public education school choice.