Issues and Research


Public charter schools are judged by their results: whether or not students are achieving academically and being well prepared for success in college and beyond. Charter schools align to the same New York state standards, and take the same state exams, as other public schools. If a charter school isn’t helping students achieve, it can be closed.

The Charter Center is running a multi-year, multi-media campaign aimed at raising public awareness and dispelling myths about charter schools.

Charter schools are public schools, but their access to public facilities is limited and tenuous. In New York City, over 60% of charter schools are presently allowed to use school district buildings, typically through co-location with district schools. Other charter schools dip into their operating funds to pay for rent or mortgages in privately-owned buildings.

In order to show real alternatives for the larger public school system, charter schools were intended to receive equal public funding: no more and no less than local district schools, on a per-student basis. While this equity does not yet extend to facilities funding, charter schools’ operating funds come from a per-pupil formula based on what the local district spends.

Public charter schools would not exist, let alone grow and thrive, without demand from families seeking high-quality public school choices. Since New York City’s first charter school opened in 1999, this educational option has grown to encompass 197 schools serving 82,300 students—with at least that many more on waiting lists for available seats.
Charter schools can innovate because they have more flexibility and autonomy than traditional public schools. At the same time, they remain closely regulated entities that use public resources to serve the public. Charter schools were created by the New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 (since amended), as well as city and state laws and regulations, and federal education law.