With the opening of 784 charter schools since 1990, the public school choice movement has clearly demonstrated that new schools will spring up when parents are given the opportunity to direct education tax dollars to the schools of their choice. Today, a new charter school is opening somewhere every day, effectively refuting critics who argue that choice is a false promise because seats at alternate schools aren’t available. Empower parents, and the schools will come.
In its 1997-1998 National Charter School Directory, the Washington, DC-based Center for Education Reform profiles more than 760 of the schools operating in this dynamic educational marketplace, plus over 100 more that have been approved but not yet opened. Each school’s profile includes address, telephone numbers, contact names, enrollment figures, grades served, and a brief description of the school’s educational program.
Charter schools currently educate over 166,000 students in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Seven other states permit charter schools but have none operating. Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina all opened their first charter schools in 1997.
According to CER president Jeanne Allen, 59 percent of charter schools serve the elementary grades, 18 percent serve high school grades, and 23 percent serve both. With an average enrollment of 241 students, charter schools are generally small. Two-thirds of the schools have waiting lists, averaging 135 students.
The directory is available for $9.95 plus shipping and handling from the Center for Education Reform at 202/822-9000. Since the directory went to press earlier this year, Idaho has become the thirtieth state to approve charter schools, another 71 schools have been approved, and at least 300 more are awaiting approval.