Celebrating 30 Years of
Charter School History
The Big Idea of "Chartering"
Charter public schools began with the purpose of transforming public education by establishing independent schools of choice that would lead to results for kids. Yet before the word “charter” was associated with a particular school model – the term “chartering” – was an invitation of hope for communities, educators and families to reimagine public schools that would give every student the personalized approach to learning they deserve.
Chartering represented then – and now – the possibility that every parent in every community can send their children to the school that's best for them. It promised that every educator inspired to the calling of public service could be empowered to be creative in the classroom and school community. And importantly, chartering was intended to focus decision-making authority and responsibility at the school site level to be accountable and responsive to the community.
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Charter Public Schools
Thirty years ago, Minnesota passed the first public school choice “chartering” law in 1991, recognizing the potential impact of chartering and effectively created a new type of public school with a contract or “charter” to help strengthen our public education system. This landmark legislation blazed a trail for others states and territories to follow.
Chartering eliminated barriers to quality schools based on zip code, income or ability level. Today there are over 200,000 passionate teachers in classrooms across 7,500 charter schools in 44 states, Washington D.C., and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. These charter schools serve more than 3.3 million students, representing 6 percent of total public school enrollment.
This year, we celebrate 30 years of charter schools transforming public education with a commitment to equity and opening the doors of opportunity for more families. We recognize the original pioneers of the movement, today’s innovative leaders and the students, schools and advocates who are part of our movement.
Resources to Get Started
Below are resources to support you in celebrating the strength and promise of charter schools.
Community Engagement Toolkit
Consider hosting an event at your school or in the community this year during the 30th Anniversary of charter schools.
Social Media Toolkit
Use social media to spread awareness of the charter school movement and 30th anniversary. Here's your guide!
Get tips for garnering proactive media coverage of charter schools to help increase awareness and understanding of our schools among a broad audience.
An “elevator pitch” is a concise way to introduce yourself or idea in the time it takes to ride an elevator. Here's your guide to creating one!
Tell Your Public Charter School Story
This guide includes the Top 4 Actions You Can Take Now to Help Tell the Charter School Story.
This guide is a resource of the most effective messaging you can incorporate in your communications for the 30th anniversary – whether pitching a media release, speaking at a community event, or meeting with legislators.
National Chartering Timeline
See when each state adopted the charter law!
Celebrating All Year!
Starting the year off right with these founders' interviews:
Highlights this month!
- Watch the Interview of Harold J. Brubaker
- Watch the Interview of Richard McLellan - Releasing this Month
- Watch Excerpt from Richard McLellan Interview: The Idea of a Charter School
- Watch Excerpt from Richard McLellan Interview: Authorizers
- William (Bill) Owens' Historical Documents
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